Nothing accomplished at budget meeting

By Staff, 11/7/17 10:02 AM


PRESCOTT – Nevada County Quorum Court’s budget committee spent two hours Monday night discussing pretty much everything except a working budget for 2018.

The meeting began with JP George Smith saying the county need to take care of its people first and wanted to address salaries first and foremost. JP Ryan Harvey agreed, adding the county has people operating heavy equipment who are being underpaid.

JP Bob Cummings, committee chairman, told the panel this year’s budget had been color-coded to make it easier to keep the different budgets separate. He began with the Road and Bridge Department Budget, which proved to be the only one the group agreed on, as it didn’t get through half of the departmental budgets in the meeting. Cummings pointed out there are different categories within the department’s budget and there are different stages for employees when it comes to pay.

Nevada County Judge Mark Glass said the county used to have three levels of pay for this department, operator, driver and laborer, but what he did about three years ago, was to adjust the pay scale so everyone is paid the same, $11.21/hour, which is more than they were making when he took office. The foreman and shop foreman and mechanic get $17/hour. Glass said three others in the Road and Bridge Department get paid more than $11.21 because they have their commercial driver’s license and get called out at all hours.

Glass told the committee he added $10,000 to the proposed budget to give all employees a 25-cent an hour raise, admitting it isn’t much, but reminding the panel this amount can be changed if the money is in the budget. He continued saying there are three spots that haven’t been filled.

Cummings said the committee needed to go through the budget in its entirety then come back and address wages, once the county has a better grasp on its funding for the coming year.

The meeting went off the rails as the members spoke over one another and there was a lot of cross talk. For the most part, the group was unable to stay on topic and focus on each department’s budget requests.

Road improvement in the county proved to be a major topic of discussion, with Smith and Harvey saying more needs to be done to maintain the county roads. Smith suggested each JP come up with priority roads for their districts with work being done on them on a rotation basis.

Glass explained the county is using its turnback money to pay its portion of state aid projects to get roads paved in the county. He said one of the main roads being worked on now is Wildcat Road and he’d like to see it completed before moving on. He told the committee this is a 90-10 project with the county’s 10 percent coming from turnback funds. By doing it this way, he continued, the county doesn’t miss the money.

He told the group the cost of gravel has also gone up and the county has had to use more gray rock than in the past, though he tries not to.

The committee wound up spending more than an hour on this topic, stressing the need to maintain county roads to rural churches, before finally agreeing the road and bridge proposed budget would work. It moved on to the Solid Waste budget, which will have around $50,000 less this year than last, but, according to Glass, will work.

Smith suggested a way to raise money for solid waste would be to implement a garbage fee for county residents. He said Nevada County is one of few in the state not charging for trash pickup. Glass put Smith in charge of finding out how this could be done, including how the citizenry would be billed.

Glass said the tipping fees at the Nashville landfill have gone up, telling the new members of the committee Nevada County hauls its household garbage to the Nashville landfill and is charged by the ton. This, he added, is hard to budget, because it’s difficult to predict how much garbage will be generated.

Harvey went off topic again, saying the county needs to consolidate services with the city where possible, suggesting the Prescott Police Department and Nevada County Sheriff’s Office could, in effect, merge. He also suggested the city be asked to pick up the entire fee for the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office budget as the city has more money than the county and gets more from the EDO than does the county. He asked Glass to talk with Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver about this. Harvey said the EDO opposed the Prescott School District’s bidding out its banking between the Bank of Prescott and Bank of Delight. He’s also a member of the Prescott School Board.

Cummings disagreed saying the county needs to “stay in” with the EDO as the office has done a lot for the county as well.

Toward the end of the meeting, Glass brought up the topic of security for the courthouse, saying a lot of courthouses have armed guards and metal detectors those entering must pass through before being allowed to continue inside. He said this is something the quorum court needs to think about as a safety measure.

The meeting broke up around 8 p.m. with nothing getting done, other than an agreement on the road and bridge budget.


5 Responses to Nothing accomplished at budget meeting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *