The county may avoid layoffs and further budget cuts after two audits revealed some additional tax income and the Sheriff’s Office is finishing establishing a new revenue stream.
Although the full details were not available for the County Commissioners on Tuesday, County Manager Pam Webster said she would recommend filling some open positions and not proceed with potential staff reductions.
“This is really information that has come to point this week and the end of last week,” said Webster, adding there will be more firm details at the final budget hearing scheduled for May 18 at 9 a.m. in Pahrump.
A recent audit by the state Department of Taxation will result in a $3.9 million invoice to Round Mountain Gold. The funds must be distributed to various entities and Webster did not know how much would come to the county.
There is also an outside audit being conducted on assessed valuations of properties in the county that may reveal more revenue for the county’s coffers. Both should, according to Webster, have an impact on the fiscal year 2015 budget, which ends June 30.
However, the biggest news on Tuesday came when Webster told commissioners Sheriff Sharon Wehrly is working on a potential long-term revenue stream through a services contract that “will have a significant impact” and “is sustainable for many years into the future.”
“It will have a significant impact on not only the general fund but other areas as well,” Webster said. “At a minimum it will be $1.6-to-$3 million. At maximum it could be even more.”
Webster said she would not have made the recommendation to fill some positions if she thought the services contract was imminent.
“I would not make this statement if I didn’t feel it could be sustained and that is was real,” Webster said. “I just don’t have a signed document in my hand yet.”
Webster said in March the county was facing a $2.5 million general fund budget 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 fiscal year 2016 budget, which starts July 1.
The county manager’s office has met with various departments since the County Commission meeting on March 3 approving 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.
The county released a preliminary $76.2 million budget for fiscal year 2016 in late April with $30.8 million in general fund expenditures. That’s 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 make up 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.
The overall county budget is down from $125.5 million in fiscal year 2010, when the general fund budget was $36.7 million.