The new Tooele County Budget Advisory Committee is on the fast-track and has only three weeks to recommend how to balance a 2014 budget that is $3.4 million out of kilter.
Tooele County Auditor Mike Jensen plopped down 81 pages of financial information in front of the new advisory board at its first meeting Tuesday night in the county commissioners’ conference room in the Tooele County Building.
The commissioners are required to adopt a budget for 2014 by the end of December. Their preference is to adopt a budget at their Dec. 3 meeting, according to Commissioner Shawn Milne.
Advisory board members adopted the goal of reporting their findings at the commission’s next public meeting on Nov. 19. That leaves board members only three weeks to complete their work on the 2014 budget.
The proposed budget that was presented to the commission on Tuesday night showed $20.6 million in general fund revenue and $20.6 million in general fund expenses.
However, those figures did not include a commitment to use $2 million of new property tax revenue to begin paying back internal loans, according to Milne.
The commissioner estimated that expenses would need to be trimmed from $20.6 million to closer to $17.2 or $17.8 million, which will require a reduction of $3.4 million in expenses.
The board requested additional information from the county officers, including a final revenue projection for 2014, the fund balance of each county fund, and a short written synopsis from each department head explaining their budget priorities and rationale for their 2014 budget request.
While Tuesday evening the board was focused on the immediate goal of preparing a budget for 2014, some board members were looking forward to a long range view of county finances.
“It is great to have input on the budget for 2014,” said Cody Deeter, advisory board member. “If you really want a long term view, I would say lets look out five years. We don’t want to make one year plans based budget cycles. That’s how you get in trouble. You need to look out five or ten years ahead and see what is going on. What will the impact of cutting expenses now will have on the future?”
The committee chose Larry Shumway, former Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and former Superintendent of Tooele County School District, as their chairman. Cody Deeter, vice-president of Lewis Young Robertson, and Burningham, a Salt Lake City-based municipal financial advisory and consulting firm, was selected as vice-chairman.
Along with Shumway and Deeter, the budget advisory board also includes Tooele County Recorder Jerry Houghton; Wayne Anderton, the Utah Public Employees Association chairman for the Tooele County employees chapter; Rod Thompson, Tooele County Roads department director; Dean Johnson, area president and branch manager for Zions Bank; Jake Jacobson, a certified public manager who works for the state of Utah; David Gibby, environmental manager for U.S. Magnesium; and Toby Lee, a senior financial specialist for Fidelity Investments and a former accounting manager for Anderson Lumber Company.