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December 29, 2011

Hogan cuts holidays

Sets budget for 2012 at $15.25 million

CHATSWORTH — Beginning in 2012, employees of Murray County government will go unpaid for not working on Labor Day — and the Fourth of July, for that matter.

In an effort to reduce a projected budget shortfall for 2012, Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan this week cut all paid holidays except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. He said the move is expected to save around $200,000.

“We currently have 11 holidays that were paid,” he said at a Wednesday public meeting where he passed the 2012 budget at $15.255 million. “We’re going to take eight of those away this year. We’re very close with our money ... so that’s why these furlough days have come about.”

Hogan explained employees will still have the days off, only without pay.

County Manager Tom Starnes, whose position will be cut at the end of the year, was not at the meeting. Hogan was asked if Starnes’ $60,000 salary plus the non-paid holidays will help the county’s budget outlook.

“It will, and I’ve also taken a 10 percent (pay) cut,” he said, adding that the total of $200,000 in holiday savings, Starnes’ $60,000 in salary, plus his 10 percent salary cut — approximately $9,800 — still will not allow the county to meet projected expenses.

“We’re projecting that we’ll use an additional $582,416 out of our operating funds (to meet the projected budget shortfall),” said Finance Director Tommy Parker, who noted the operating fund amount was placed in “reserve funds” to balance next year’s budget.

This year’s budget is $15.31 million, making next year’s budget almost $55,000 less than this year’s. The largest projected expenses in the 2012 budget include:

• General administration — $3.676 million

• Jail — $1.629 million

• Sheriff’s department — $1.534 million

• Public works — $1.495 million

• Fire department — almost $928,000

Hogan was asked if he hopes tax revenues will pick up across the board in 2012.

“We’re hoping a lot of things pick up,” Parker answered for him.

A jail completed in 2009 remains unoccupied except by office staff. Hogan said in mid-December at a budget hearing that the old jail is making money for the county by housing inmates, but that the practice also calls for expenditures in feeding and supervision.

The 2012 budget is available for review during normal business hours in Hogan’s office at 121 N. Fourth Ave. in Chatsworth.

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