He discusses the budget cuts the county will make:

The Economy
By Tom Worthan

The economy is on everyone’s mind.

We are in the middle of a global recession, and all of us are feeling the effects of tightening credit, the loss of jobs, the closing of businesses, and the resulting foreclosures on homes and buildings.

All of us are tightening our belts, and your County government is no exception. We are working with a budget that assumes zero growth in 2009, and we have examined every department and program to see where cuts and savings can be made. The 2009 budget is $74.7 million, down from the 2008 budget of $82.4 million. Even with the reduction in expenditures, we pledge to be responsive and responsible in our service to our citizens.

The major cuts in the budget are in capital projects. Additional construction in parks and recreation and some roadway projects will be postponed until the economy improves. We will go ahead with the new park and ride lot on Bright Star Road because 90 percent of its costs are from State and Federal grants, and we are spending $400,000 to make necessary security renovations to the jail.

We are still maintaining a positive fund balance of $5.1 million in the bank; we must be ready if a weather catastrophe or other emergency occurs, and this is being responsible.

We have gone through every building the County owns, and have retrofitted almost all of our water fixtures to reduce water flow, therefore saving on our water bill. We have installed motion-activated light switches so that rooms are lighted only when people are using them, therefore saving on our electric bill. We are constantly analyzing ways
to save money and hold down costs.

County employees are tightening their belts, too. Our employees will not receive a cost-of-living raise this year, nor will they receive a merit raise based on their performance. Travel and training have been restricted to that which is necessary for employees to maintain their required professional certifications. They understand, as does the Board
of Commissioners, that times are tough, and we are in this economic downturn together.

We continue to aggressively market our County to firms which arelooking for a place to locate and bring jobs. Our location, transportation network, fiber system, low taxes, and cooperative government make Douglas County a great place for business, and we take advantage of every opportunity to get them here.

President Obama and Congress are working on an economic stimulus plan that is proposed to include public infrastructure projects, such as roadways. We submitted a list of projects to our two Congressmen – David Scott and Lynn Westmoreland – and requested that they actively seek to get construction projects in our County on the Congressional list. These projects will create jobs for local companies plus the multiplier effect is 5x – for every dollar spent locally, it is “recycled” five times in goods and services. In addition, we will get needed projects constructed.

We also encourage you to patronize local businesses and use local services when you can.

• If you are a Douglas County business or service, make sure that information about yourself is in the “Shop Local/Think Local” section of the County web site at http://www.CelebrateDouglasCounty.com. These listings are free and include a direct link to your company’s web site and to your e-mail address. Look for the “Shop Local/Think Local”
title/link at the very top of the County web site. Close to 60,000 visitors go to the County web site each month, so your business listing should get noticed.

• If you are shopping for a certain product or service, please go to the “Shop Local/Think Local” section of the web site and see what local businesses can provide this to you. We have almost anything you need right here in Douglas County, and shopping locally will help keep our local businesses afloat and keep jobs for our citizens.

With God’s help and us supporting each other, we will get through these rough times. We live in a wonderful community and we will emerge stronger than before.

Thanks for your support.

Tom

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