Fayette chairman warns of ‘budget crackdown’
‘Everything is on the table, including furloughs.’ — Chairman Steve Brown
Employee furloughs are a possibility as Fayette County government deals with cost increases in liability insurance and other categories, according to County Commission Chairman Steve Brown.
With the new five-member commission averse to a property tax increase, there will be a scouring of the county budget, and Brown recently sent a letter to all county employees in which he implores department heads, chiefs and constitutional officers to crack down on spending.
“Everything is on the table, including furloughs,” Brown told The Citizen Monday evening.
Brown has been a frequent critic of the spending of the previous commission, but former commissioners have argued they were spending from a pot of several million in extra cash reserves that they had saved up over several years through budget cuts.
In the letter to employees, Brown urged department heads to shave their budgets, though he sets no specific goal for them to reach. He does note that by his tally the county faces a $2.8 million deficit for the upcoming budget.
“It is absolutely critical that you find savings and efficiency in your current budget to soften the actions necessary to balance the FY 2014 budget,” Brown wrote. “If the expenditure is not absolutely necessary, do not expend the funds in the line item.”
Brown also took aim at the constitutional officers who are elected by voters but whose budgets are controlled by the county commission, such as the sheriff, clerk of court, tax commissioner and probate judge, for example.
“For our constitutional officers, we on the county side have put in place a ‘hiring freeze’ to enable us the ability to eliminate vacant positions versus having to do a reduction in force (RIF),” Brown wrote. “I strongly suggest that you look at taking similar measures.”
Brown asked the constitutional officers to communicate with new County Administrator Steve Rapson to see if he can help them shrink their budgets “to reduce the effects of the upcoming budget cuts.”