Monday, May 21, 2012 | 12:40 p.m.
County commissioners Monday morning approved a $1.1 billion budget for the coming fiscal year that is virtually unchanged from the county’s current spending plan.
The budget takes into account a drop of some $19 million in property tax revenues, most of which is made up with increases in license/permit fees and other areas.
Commissioners also approved the permanent elimination of 346 positions that have been vacant for more than a year. That action had no effect on next year’s budget. Since 2011, more than 900 vacant county jobs have been eliminated.
The meeting went fairly quickly, but not before Commissioner Larry Brown pointed out the county was edging close to the point where it will have to cut jobs and real people to balance its budget, instead of simply cutting jobs already made vacant by attrition.
While commending county staff for union contract negotiations that have resulted in less-than-expected salary and benefit increases, Brown said the fact remained that over the past few years many union members still have received increases.
“It’s really hard to understand,” he said. “There’s a structural breakdown here.”
Brown directed county staff to start thinking more globally about salaries and benefits, instead of on a per-union basis, where each increase or decrease is judged based upon how it compares to other union contracts.