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Pike County fiscal court facing a budget shortfall

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PIKEVILLE The Pike County Fiscal Court heard it first reading of the proposed budget for FY 2010-2011 during its first regular meeting in June.
Facing a multi-million dollar shortfall because of decreased coal severance and minerals taxes, Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford and the rest of the fiscal court have been working to to prevent job cuts, tax increases or changes in health coverage for county employees.
Pike County is not alone, Rutherford said. Our state, our country and countries all over the world are suffering from slumping economies. How long will it last? Well, nobody knows.
This years budget of $35.5 million is down from $40.3 million a year ago and cuts have been made to ensure a balanced budget is submitted to the state for approval, which is required by law.
We have prepared the best possible budget, Rutherford said. All budgets are just projections and we will monitor the budget situation and re-evaluate as time goes on to see where we are.
Rutherford said the opening of five new mining operations around the county will be a boom to the county's economy by creating jobs and increasing coal severance.
To combat the shortfall, salaries have been frozen and cost of living raises suspended. The magistrates voluntarily gave up their cost of living raises. Rutherford offered to take a 5 percent pay cut, however, he was told by Pike County Treasurer Johnda Billiter he could not do so because his salary is state mandated. Also, overtime has been cut out and the purchase of new vehicles and equipment has been suspended. Travel has been limited to elected officials, directors and commissioners when necessary.
Rhonda James, Pike County finance director, is optimistic even with the shortfall.
More cost-cutting came from the Mountain Pub-Links Golf Course, which will have to pay its own way this year, and the Commonwealths Attorney budget was decreased by $18,000. Constables travel reimbursements have been cut to $600 a month from $1,000 a month, but they will no longer have their duties in regard to solid waste. One contracted position has been eliminated.
Rutherford said by the third quarter of this fiscal year the countys budget makers should be able to get a good idea of what Fiscal Year 2011-2012s budget will look like.

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