The paper reports, "The county's 2008 budget is $147,861,776, compared with $149,884,680 for 2007."
Except, the approved 2008 budget was $145,088,795.80.
The modified budget I received from the BCC in September was only $145,271,650.80.
Now, according to the newspaper story and the press release, the commissioners are touting the fact that their budget for 2008 is less than 2007.
From The Blade:
"The Lucas County commissioners are expected to pass a 2008 budget today that includes a $2 million decrease in spending from last year and a $2.7 million deficit to be made up through the county's reserve fund."
From their press release:
"The Board will pass a 2008 general fund budget with total expenditures of $147.8 million dollars, with across the board reductions in each operating department and a 1.35% total reduction over the final 2007 budget."
Now, technically, both these statements are correct in that they plan to spend less than what was actually spent in 2007. But they are conveniently ignoring the fact that they did not stay within their budget for 2007 and actually spent $4,795,884 more than they planned. That's nearly $5 million OVER BUDGET for last year!
Add to that the fact that they did not make their revenue projections for sales taxes, and that explains why they ended up pulling money out of reserves - $973,291, to be exact.
County Administrator Mike Beazley said this is not the first time the county has passed a budget with projected deficits.
The county budgeted for reserve fund payments of $3.3 million in 2004, $3 million in 2005, $300,000 in 2006, and $1.7 million last year, Mr. Beazley said, but ended up resorting to the reserve fund only once - a $973,291 payment to cover a year-end deficit for 2007.
"We've had a plan in place only to use the rainy day fund as a last resort," Ms. Wozniak said. "It rained a little bit last year, but then again, not to the tune we projected."
Notice the spin? This was less than what they planned to pull out of reserves - so that's a good thing, you see?
Except that it isn't! Had they stayed within their approved budget, they wouldn't have needed to take anything out of reserves and would have ended up with a surplus of $3.8 million! Note also that reserves are routinely budgeted to cover unanticipated events - but that this is the only time in the last four years that they needed to dip into that account.
The County's 2008 budget is 2% higher than what they budgeted in 2007. They spent nearly $5 million more than budgeted throughout the year. Plus, they're predicting a $2.7 million deficit for 2008.
And Commissioner Ben Konop tells us, "Our budget is a step in the right direction toward making government smaller, efficient, and less costly to taxpayers..."