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Officials are hopeful spending freeze works

County officials remain hopeful that last month’s temporary spending freeze will quell cash flow worries.

Tuesday, March 06, 2001

County officials remain hopeful that last month’s temporary spending freeze will quell cash flow worries.

About 10 more days remain on the freeze – a move enacted by county commissioners Feb. 15 to ensure enough operating money stays in the general fund – but at least some tax collection amounts will become known next week, county auditor Ray Dutey said.

The treasurer’s office will likely close out the first half of property collections early next week, then officials will know amounts received from the county’s biggest taxpayers – utility companies, Dutey said.

Gas companies, power companies and others usually wait until the last minute to pay the taxes they owe for their property interests, he said.

"We’ll know better about where we stand on the revenue by the middle of next week," Dutey said.

Meanwhile, county offices are supportive, which is more good news, he added.

"We’ll get some build up (in funds) here and that’s what we needed."

February’s spending freeze in county government offices did not include payroll or emergency purchases. It was enacted after commissioners heard an auditor’s report indicating the county’s fund balance was dangerously low.

By delaying spending until more tax revenue is collected, the county prevents any shortfalls in the short-term, they said.

The auditor’s office will make another cash flow report to the commission when the current spending freeze ends.

The effect of years of job loss created a small carryover at the beginning of the year, which led to a cash flow problem, commissioners said.

Tax revenues were not coming into the county’s funds at the same rate as money being spent.