County team continues budget planning

OSCEOLA COUNTY — With times being as economically ‘tight’ as they are around the nation today, nobody wants to hear that “ ... our expenditures exceed revenues in excess of $1 million.”

Ouch!

That’s not good. Not good for any community, and certainly not good for Osceola County.

But ... it’s far too early to get too excited, reports county coordinator Sue Vander Pol.

In comments to County Commissioners during a Committee of the Whole session, Vander Pol noted that in dealing with department heads in county offices, initial budget request figures revealed the potential ‘overdraw’ on county coffers.

It was, however, pointed out there was still work to be done, and planners hoped to bring the figures more “into line” as they worked toward a submission of the 2012 budget.

“There isn’t anything to get too upset about,” said Vander Pol.

“This is actually all part of the process.

“Department heads offer a proposed budget for their departments or areas. We then work to make these budgets work, while keeping within the mandate for a balanced budget.”

In fact, the county is in pretty good fiscal shape.

There actually has been a fund balance well able to cover any needed infusion of funds to the annual budget.

In 2010, the county was left with a fund balance of just over $2.6 million.

“We haven’t been using our fund balance over the years,” noted Vander Pol. “We actually have been adding to our fund balance. We added a little over $200,000 this past year — excess revenues over expenditures.

“This is an indication that our department heads have been very fiscally conservative. Everyone has been watching their finances, and the result is a county that is in good fiscal condition.”

Vander Pol noted the county was working under a general mandate of “do more with less” while there have been both hiring and salary freezes across the board.

“We’ve managed to keep our expenses down,” she pointed out. “That’s a very important thing.

“The initial million dollar overshot is just that - “initial.”

“We will work things out and get the budget more in line with reality.

“It’s also very, very imprint to note that, in fact, the difference between a balanced budget and the initial request for 2012 expenditures by departments in is much lower.

“There’s a lot that goes into a budget that simply doesn’t come out in general reviews or the situation - especially at this point.

“We constantly have bumps in revenues and drops in expenditures.

“We will do the cutting that needs to be cut. We will review our proposed expenditures and take a serious look at capital expenses.

“By he time we have reviewed all the department budgets, we will bring a balanced budget to the commissioners by Oct. 18.”

Folks simply should not take budget comments at this time of year as an exact view of the entire situation.

“We still have planning to do, and program reviews.

“We won’t be cutting people or services, but we will — at the same time — be bringing a balanced budget to the table.”