Eastern panhandle county looking to other cuts - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Eastern panhandle county looking to other cuts

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A steep decline in table game and video lottery revenues is pushing Jefferson County commissioners to order spending cuts.

Finance Director Tim Stanton said the county is seeing about a 20 percent reduction in gaming revenues.

"With increased competition from casinos in Maryland, we're seeing revenues decline," he said. "Our table game revenues are down 29 percent this year compared to last. Over the last two years our total gambling revenue is down $1.4 million."

Department heads have already shaved $2.4 million from the current year's budget, but Stanton said those were one-time savings.

He said commissioners have asked department heads to show what they would eliminate if they had to cut their budgets by 25 percent — a worst-case scenario — and then show in 5 percent increments what programs could be restored if funding were made available.

Stanton said it's target-based budgeting. Armed with that information, "commissioners can review the packages and prioritize the ones they think are important to fund," he said.

"Commissioners are probably going to have about 75 packages they'll need to review," he said. "But it's going to give them a better understanding of what in the budget they can cut and what the ramifications will be. Instead of doing it across-the-board, hopefully they'll be able to make cuts in a more logical manner."

Stanton said they're currently looking to shave about 12.5 percent from the county's $25.2 million budget, or about $3 million.

"We've been using our prior year reserves to balance expenditures," he said. "If you do that long enough eventually you're going to run out. We need to have a balanced budget so we aren't using our reserves."

He said county government is "going to have to live within our means," though he concedes it could be painful.

"But it's something we have to do to be financially responsible," he said.

Stanton pointed out department heads have been very cooperative, particularly in effecting the $2.4 million savings in the current budget.