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Budget funding continues to decline

Nye County continues to try to cut costs and lower overhead as taxes and other revenues continue to gradually decline while the cost of doing business increases.

The preliminary $76.2 million budget for fiscal year 2016 submitted to the state last week shows a $13.9 million budget increase driven by a projected $8.7 million increase in general government spending, a $3.7 million spending increase in public works, and a $2.1 million increase in Sheriff’s Office spending.

The total budget includes proprietary funds and other government revenues such as gas taxes.

County Commissioners will meet May 18 at 9 a.m. in Pahrump to approve the final budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.

A special teleconference meeting with County Commissioners scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the preliminary budget was canceled, and will be part of the regular commission meeting May 5.

The largest share of the budget is the $30.8 million in general fund expenditures, down from $32.6 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, and $33.4 million in fiscal year 2014. The general fund pays for the county’s day-to-day operations and activities not covered by proprietary funds or special revenue, such as grants and special taxes.

Salary and benefits makeup 77.7 percent of the projected general fund budget at $23.9 million, an approximately $1 million decrease from the last budget.

The general fund is mostly financed by property taxes, sales tax, business licenses, franchise fees and county fees. About 39 percent of the general fund budget is for public safety, including police and fire.

The property tax share for the general fund is projected at $11.7 million for fiscal year 2016, down from the $12.2 million projected last year. The sales tax is projected at $11.1 million, down from the $11.9 million projected for last year.

The city’s general fund ending balance is projected to be $258,347, less than 1 percent of the fund’s budgeted revenues, down from a beginning fund budget of $264,501.

While the majority of county salaries and benefits are paid out of the general fund, an additional $7.3 million in additional county government salary and benefits are projected to be paid out of other funds, including fuel and sales taxes.

County Manager Pam Webster said in March the county was facing a $2.5 million shortfall, driven by lower-than-projected property and consolidated taxes, to end this fiscal year, and as much as a $3.2 million shortfall for the next budget cycle.

County manager’s office has met with various departments since the County Commission meeting on March 3 recommending cuts to senior nutrition, animal shelters, juvenile probation, pay reductions and furloughs to help address projected shortfalls.

Webster told the commission April 21 that “things are in various stages of reaction” regarding those meetings, including notices to employees and meetings with the collective bargaining units.

Webster said the sheriff’s department has done a fairly extensive reorganization since Sheriff Sharon Wehrly took office in January, that the reorganization is in various stages of implementation.

Cut from the Sheriff’s budget in March was $800,000 from the operation of the Tonopah jail, as well as other department cuts.

The overall county budget is down from $125.5 million in fiscal year 2010, when the general fund budget was $36.7 million.

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