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Commission okays budget

By By JOHN DILMORE JR. Managing Editor
Escambia's County Commission passed a tight budget Monday morning, with members voicing their intention to find even more ways to save in these lean economic times.
Following a rundown of the fiscal year 2004 budget, County Commission Chairman Larry White said that the board needed to have someone -- either a committee or some other group of individuals -- perform a close analysis of costs related to use of cell phones, county vehicles and other expenses.
The analysis will be performed so the commission can see what it may be "able to get by without," White said.
Such a study, "really is just good management practice anyway," White said.
Already, in an effort to balance this year's budget, the board has cut costs related to travel and other items totalling in the neighborhood of $20,000.
Of the budget itself, County Administrator Tony Sanks said that it was the slimmest he could remember the commission passing.
Later, White remarked that, "A budget is always just a best guess anyway. We use what we know about the coming year to anticipate revenues and expenditures.
Later in the meeting, White expressed hope that there would be a positive turnaround in the areas of revenue generated from solid waste collection or local sales tax.
In the end, the commission voted unanimously to approve the fiscal year 2004 operating budget, which calls for total expenditures of $5,198,709.
Of that amount, $2,362,709 is budgeted under the category general government, $2,402,484 under the category public safety, $52,096 under the category sanitation and $190,610 under the category health and welfare.
Also, $21,000 is budgeted for culture and recreation, $15,800 for education, $76,782 for intergovernmental expenses and $77,228 for debt service.
To cover those costs, the budget calls for appropriation of $5,300,289 from taxes, licenses and permits, intergovernmental appropriations, charges for services and various other areas.
The money to cover this year's expenses is there, White said. "This is a true picture. We can expect that revenue."