County Staff on Chopping Block with Proposed 25% Budget Cut

Staff reductions could follow a request for all county departments to slash their budgets by up to one-quarter this coming fiscal year, officials said Tuesday afternoon at the Campbell County Manager’s Meeting.

In total, all county departments, boards and elected officials will be looking to reduce their budgets by 15 to 25% in preparation of a billion-dollar shortfall in the county’s assessed valuation moving into 2021, according to the commissioner’s November countywide pre-budget message.

It may not be possible to institute such a steep budget reduction without implicating personnel, said Campbell County Sheriff Scott Matheny, who was present to ask the commission what specific percentage, 15 or 25, they wanted cut from county departments.

An answer to Matheny’s question, however, was vague.

Commissioner DG Reardon requested that the sheriff keep in mind that reducing Campbell County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) personnel also means reducing vehicle upkeep costs for patrol and other staff vehicles. This additional reduction could mean that the CCSO may not have to make as many personnel cuts to meet the county’s budget cut request as other departments, according to Reardon.

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“Not all departments are created equal,” he said.

Commissioner Del Shelstad advised that, while it was difficult to say for certain how the county would like to see departments cut their budgets, each of them should look for ways to reduce their budgets without adversely affecting their quality of service.

The need for a massive countywide budget reduction was identified in late 2020, after the county’s assessed valuation was projected to be as low as $3.2 billion in 2021, around a billion dollars less than the assessed valuation for 2020 that came in at $4.24 billion, according to the November pre-budget message.

Any proposed budget cuts had to continue to allow the county to provide statutorily mandated services and not interfere with the county’s level of service to its citizens, the letter stated, which could also include reducing operational hours and leaving vacant positions empty for the time being.