County gears up for difficult budget year

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, January 28, 2009

COURTLAND—With Southampton County government being asked to do its job with less state money for the next two years, the Board of Supervisors asked county departments to try to cut 5 percent from their budgets for fiscal year 2010.

Meanwhile, the county school system expects to lose a whopping $1.8 million in state money that same year.

Southampton County Administrator Michael Johnson asked supervisors to approve a call for estimates to the governmental departments.

“As I prepare the FY 2010 draft budget, I’d prefer to avoid across-the-board cuts in favor of a more targeted approach,” Johnson wrote to the board. “I’m asking each department, agency and organization to leave no stone unturned and no program unexamined as you look for ways to reduce your respective budget.”

After a lengthy discussion Monday, the board decided to ask the departments to try to shed 5 percent of their budgets.

Among the suggestions to the board for FY 2010, Johnson suggested a salary freeze and keeping vacant positions unfilled.

But one big cut would be in the local appropriation to Southampton County Schools. Data presented by Johnson said “with state cuts, level local funding will result in total cuts of more than $1.8 million for school operational funding.”

Southampton County Schools are projected to receive $421,270 less from the state in FY 2009, but that number balloons to $1,871,346 less for FY 2010.

Most of the state money for schools lost in FY 2010 comes from basic aid and the state sales tax. The governor also proposes spending nothing on construction.