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County Manager Bill Buchanon presented a lean $408 million budget proposed to county commissioners Wednesday that calls for employee layoffs and the closure of the Judge Riddell Boys Ranch.
Buchanon crafted the spending plan to deal with a $9.3 million deficit by the end of 2013. He said the county's department heads had to ask themselves some very difficult questions.
"What are the programs? What is it that you do to citizens? What is it that you do for citizens?" Buchanon said. "If you had 80 percent of your budget, what would you absolutely, essentially hold on to?"
Buchanon said managers were eventually asked what would be the last thing they would purchase for the departments.
The plan calls for reductions in 113 staff positions, many of which are currently filled. Seventy-nine people could lose their jobs if they cannot be moved elsewhere in the organization.
The Boys Ranch has been considered for closure for months, because of its $1.5 million yearly operating budget. Commissioner Jim Skelton said he would try to find other ways to cut costs to avoid shuttering the facility for juvenile offenders.
The steep cuts and declining revenue could make it tempting to put off the pain and dip into the county's fund balance, Buchanon said.
"I would suggest to you that's certainly possible," Buchanon said. "But I'm not so sure that is entirely wise at this point."
Commissioners are scheduled to adopt a budget August 15.