Cuts mean no furloughs for county workers now

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More cuts to charities and other budget items will bring county spending in line and head off employee furloughs for now, Warren County supervisors said Tuesday.

Eight agencies expecting a final quarterly allocation of public money will see those amounts sliced in half or a total of $122,075 this year, according to the most recent plan to balance the budget in midyear. Coupled with leaving some unfilled jobs in the Department of Human Services and the Extension Agency and other pending cuts, the reductions total $201,248.

Supervisors have also started doing budget math for 2010-11 about three months early, as building up cash reserves has been a premium in the wake of falling revenues, uncertain land roll values for next year and how to finance a new jail. Savings from the planned cuts could be minimized by the pace of an imbalance in the court system, where indigent defense is on pace to surpass fine collections by more than $132,000.

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One unpaid day for each of the county’s 286 employees would save $20,000, County Administrator John Smith said. If sheriff’s deputies, jail and detention center personnel and elected officials are taken out of the mix, savings drop to $10,000, Smith said.

Nixing the social services position at DHS saves the county a $27,244 annual salary. The agricultural liaison post, partially funded by Mississippi State University, would save $9,079 in local general fund dollars. Supervisors agreed to keep it open based on reports that the university will not name a successor until the state’s new fiscal year starts July 1. Current director John Coccaro is retiring. Another item allows the county to hold off on a $9,000 payment to support Keep Vicksburg-Warren Beautiful because the group has disbanded.

Cuts in support for other items includes:

• Fourth of July fireworks downtown, $9,000

• Alcorn State University Extension Service, $1,350

• Individual assistance programs with DHS, $18,500

• DHS hired security, $5,000

Monday’s claims docket included indigent defense expenses of $48,646.50, down by two-thirds over last month. Going forward, supervisors have favored setting a salary for up to four public defenders whose interest in the job would essentially be gauged by the local bar association. Consultants have told supervisors a public defender staff would be less expensive than appointing private attorneys in rotation and would also save money by moving cases more quickly.

Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at