Commissioner Bruce Scogin suggested Monday that the county cut budget expenses across the board by five percent.
The BOC has held numerous budget meetings in recent months, where they have whittled away on department spending requests for 2009.
But Scogin said the commissioners should scrap the 2009 budget and use 2008 figures instead with a five percent cut in all expenses applied to the 08 figures.
“I think a five percent reduction would be realistic,” said Scogin.
The district 5 commissioner said people are deeply worried about their tax bills. He said elderly property owners fear that they won’t be able to pay their taxes and will have to sell their property in a time when the market is down.
“I think we’re looking at a very tough year ahead of us,” said Scogin. “I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom yet.”
Scogin, the lone board member facing opposition next Tuesday, said the county EMS has already made considerable adjustments and added that he felt other departments could find a way to reduce expenses, too.
“I think our departments can do this,” he said.
The commissioner also noted the new carpet in the BOC meeting room as an example of an expense the county could have postponed.
He urged other tax-levying boards in the county, such as the board of education and industrial authority, to consider similar budget adjustments.
“I ask the BOE and IDA to do the same,” he said.
Madison County Chief Appraiser James Flynt plans to present the county digest — or overall county property value — to the board of assessors Nov. 17. Once the digest is established, the BOC will have a clearer revenue picture and a better idea of what adjustments need to be made. Meanwhile, the county waits for word on whether the state will fund the Homeowner Tax Relief Grant, which reimburses local governments who provide a homestead tax exemption. The Madison County government stands to lose roughly $600,000 in anticipated revenue if this grant is not awarded.
In other business Monday, the board agreed to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss a proposed amendment to the county sick leave policy, which would establish a sick leave bank in which employees could donate their unused days. Under current policies, employees can directly donate their unused days to fellow employees. The amendment was proposed because some said the current policy is abused by employees seeking sick days from other workers when they’re not sick themselves. But others said the current policy proves very helpful to employees who face a family or medical crisis. Human resource director Donna Sisk said she met with county department heads, who favored keeping the current policy by a 10-4 margin.
Commissioners need to man-up and put an end to this ridiculous concept of "banking" and "sharing" sick leave days. I am aware of not one business in the private sector where this wasteful, inefficient policy would be tolerated. You have an allotted number of sick days. If you are sick beyond those days, you clearly are not healthy enough to work and you need to quit so you can get better. The job that "sick" person does still needs to be done. Who's going to do that job if someone is staying out sick all the time and then even using up other people's sick days? Crazy...grow a backbone commissioners!