The White Pine County Commission passed a new budget in their meeting on April 8 that will introduce major cuts across the board to balance the county’s budget. The proposed cuts will reduce the county’s budget deficit by $242,000, leaving it just above $600,000.
According to County Commissioner Richard Howe, the cuts were necessary due to a loss in revenue, not from overspending.
“We don’t have the revenues to sustain the government,” Howe said.
According to the commissioner, the county took a “major hit” from loss in mining revenue due to the declining prices of gold and copper as well as other shortfalls.
The new budget will introduce sweeping cuts across multiple departments and include reducing department heads’ pay by 10 percent and switching county employees to a 7-hour work day, instead of the typical 8.
Howe said that he did not take the decision to reduce the affected peoples’ incomes lightly.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve had to do as a commissioner. It gives me real heartburn to see people have to cut their hours,” he said.
Jail, police dispatch, patrol deputies, fire department and emergency medical services were listed as exempt from the hour cuts, as the council deemed them too important to public safety.
County Finance Director Elizabeth Francis said that, while painful, the cuts are necessary because the county must match their revenues to their expenditures.
County Commissioner Mike Coster was the sole member of the commission to oppose the new budget when it came to a vote. Coster said that he had previously said in a commission meeting that he would oppose any bdget that did not get the total deficit down below $400,000.