Storey County focuses on savings in tentative budget
Appeal Staff Writer
VIRGINIA CITY – Taking a conservative approach to finances has paid off for Storey County, which has seen small growth in the budget with enough available for savings.
County Manager Pat Whitten said the budget is well-funded and the county was continuing a plan to have adequate government savings to prepare for an emergency.
“This is our third year of financial recovery and we wanted to put in ample savings,” said Whitten.
The commissioners approved the tentative budget Monday.
On revenue, Whitten said he took what Assessor Kathy Weeks projected and added state sales tax funds to aid in revenue projections. He added that state sales tax funds have been less and have been causing difficulty for other counties, including Lyon and Carson City.
Whitten said his method of projection was to forecast revenues very low and on the spending side, always forecast high to be prepared for anything that can come along.
Most of the county departments had only small increases in their budgets for regular salary hikes and benefit costs, which Whitten said were going up across the board.
There were also small increases for office supplies and a few additional hires, mostly part-time with no benefits.
Some increase in the budgets for the district attorney’s office and the Justice Court are directly related to Storey County Sheriff Jim Miller’s stepped-up efforts to fight methamphetamine use and trafficking, Whitten said.
District Attorney Harold Swafford included a request for a part-time deputy district attorney to be hired on a contract basis for times when that stepped-up effort leads to more court dates.
Justice of the Peace Annette Daniels has requested a part-time administrative employee in her office as well.
“This department has seen the burden of increased law enforcement efforts,” Whitten said. “It (the new employee) will keep up with input on citations.”
The major expense in the budget comes from the fire department, sheriff’s office and Public Works, Whitten said.
In creating the new communications department, Whitten has take four dispatchers and communications-related expenses out of the sheriff’s and fire departments and created a new county department to streamline the communications operation, he said.
Also, the county will work to create a new global information system to create maps for all county departments that require them, a move that was supported by the fire chief and sheriff, as well as Weeks, Recorder Sarah Jensen, Public Works Director Mike Nevin and Building Director Dean Haymore.
The sheriff will hire additional officers on patrol to fill the four slots left vacant by the movement of the dispatchers, keeping his staff at 26.
In addition to salaries and benefits, new equipment will be a major expenditure this year, as the county hopes to add vehicles for the fire, building and public works departments.
A new fire station at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Park will have to be equipped and staffed, Whitten said, though the building is being paid for by the TRI developers.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 882-2111 ext. 351.