County commissioners and county department heads continue to look for ways to offset an expected $1.5 million shortfall in the budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year that begins July 1.
County CPA Dan MacArthur was at the budget meeting this week at the courthouse in Pioche and reported the county has more money to work with than may appear, but the need to cut back on a number of things is still present.
Commissioner Bevan Lister said elected county officials had been asked to compile where cuts in their upcoming budgets could be made in an updated budget, “kind of bare bones. Some did really well, some others not so much.”
After discussing what possible options there are, department heads were asked to try again and bring back new figures at the next budget meeting.
“We’re basically looking to be down $1.5 million,” Lister said, “and with what was presented at this meeting, we gained about $300,000.”
No layoffs or cutbacks of staff have been ordered. “That is really up to the department head,” he said.
Commissioners put a wage and hiring freeze into effect April 20.
MacArthur’s figures were more optimistic than he had expected and he made a few suggestions of where money could be found if some possible changes were made.
But MacArthur also acknowledged the fact that the biggest problem the county is going to face this summer and for an unknown time beyond, is the expiring of the detention center contract June 30 with the City of North Las Vegas.
With that contract, the detention center has been basically self-supporting and that expense will now be shifted over to the county. Sheriff Kerry Lee said his office is exploring what options exist as well as trying to negotiate a new contract with another agency for overflow inmates, but negotiations on that subject could take up the rest of the year.
The detention center does have a small contract with Boulder City, but Lee said it usually is only about two to three inmates.
No layoffs of staff at the detention center were discussed. Lee said there are three people who have expressed interest in possibly taking a buyout and one person is going to be transferred to the dispatch center.
Lister said in announcing the need for a reduction in force at the detention center, “It triggers some things in the law enforcement contract which allows for the county to offer buyouts to those who are getting close to retirement and discussions will begin to see if this would be economically reasonable to do.”
The deadline for turning in the county budget to the Nevada Department of Taxation is June 1.