Commissioners could implement hiring freeze, spending reduction

Mar. 29, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

In an effort to bridge a revenue shortfall this fiscal year, a resolution calling for a hiring freeze and spending reduction will be considered by the Lee County Board of Commissioners Monday.

Based on a sales tax revenue decrease and federal sequester cuts, the county is projecting a $3.1 million deficit this fiscal year, according to Lee County Manager John Crumpton. The projected shortfall will be discussed during the board’s 7 p.m. meeting at the Lee County Government Center, located at 106 Hillcrest Drive.

If approved, the resolution would institute a hiring freeze, cancel all capital purchases for the remainder of the year except for emergencies and request all departments to “immediately reduce operational expenses so as to minimize the impact on the county’s fund balance.”

“We’ll have payroll, our utility bill and whatever it takes to operate our vehicles and facilities,” Crumpton said. “If we don’t have it now, we are not going to have it between now and June.”

According to the resolution, it’s estimated “the county will use [more than] $3.1 million of fund balance, which would lower the county’s fund balance as a percentage of total budgeted expenditures below the stated minimum goal of 14 percent.”

The resolution is being requested, Crumpton said, to minimize the impact to the county’s reserve balance. A hiring freeze was not instituted last year, but has been in previous years.

One of the budget problems has come from the national sequester cuts, he said, affecting the Lee County departments of health, social services and senior services in particular. Those departments typically receive funds at the end of the year for various programs. This year, those funds have been diverted or frozen, Crumpton said.

Other items on Monday’s agenda include:

* A resolution in opposition to a N.C. Senate bill that would move Lee County into a new economic region based around Charlotte.

* Draft economic incentive guidelines that would tighten the requirements for a business to receive government funds to locate or expand.

*A report of results from the county Economic Summit, held March 1.

Commissioners informally agreed to change the sales tax distribution method during a recent budget workshop. The decision to change the sales tax distribution from its current per capita method to ad valorem must be made by the commissioners in April, according to state statute. However, a resolution on this matter does not appear on Monday’s agenda.