Brunswick County is facing an $8.5 million deficit in this year’s budget. Commissioners vote Monday night on proposed spending cuts to make up the difference. “I think our only revenue projection that is meeting budget, or may exceed, is our EMS fees,” said Brunswick County Manager Marty Lawing. For Brunswick County, failing to meet projections means an $8.5 million deficit in the 2008 budget. Monday night, commissioners will vote on a budget amendment to make up for the shortfall. County Manager Marty Lawing attributes the shortfall to lower collection of property taxes and less consumer spending. “Maybe they've lost their job, they're not employed any more, other expenses have increased and they've indicated that they're just not able to pay their property taxes.” The county had hoped to collect 98 percent of property taxes, but at the end of February they lowered that expectation to somewhere between 94 and 96 percent. “The 28th of February is when all people who have not paid their taxes, the advertisement goes into the paper that they have not paid their taxes,” said County Commissioner Bill Sue. October and November sales tax was also less than expected. In both months the county collected 34 percent less than the previous year, a loss totaling more than $1 million. If the commissioners approve the amendment, previously frozen vacant positions will go away and unused funds will be cut from this year’s budget. Parks and recreation funds would also be eliminated. Director Jim Pryor said he's more concerned with employees than money. “I truly believe that people are our most valuable resource, and in the service industry like we are it takes people to provide services.” But Lawing said the amendment wouldn’t lead to any furloughs or layoffs for county employees. Brunswick County has already delayed its 2009-2010 budget retreat. Officials hope the added time will provide a better idea of what funds will be available for the next fiscal year.
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