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Commissioners rank budget priorities

Henderson County commissioners have reviewed more than 200 funding requests and determined that $63 million worth of spending ranked as high priorities.


County Manager Steve Wyatt introduced the list and said it represents a first pass at the board's priorities for the upcoming budget year and after that a draft of spending for the three years beyiond that.

"A plan is like an automobile," he said. "On an automobile you have a steering wheel because sometimes you have to make a turn. You have a brake, because sometimes you have to slow down. You have an accelerator because sometimes you have to speed up."

The county has begun the process to draft a four-year spending plan and tax forecast based on the quadrennial revaluation, which the county tax assessor office just completed.

"It's the most comprehensive  and likely the most accurate appraisal that's been done here in my tenure," Wyatt said.

The priority spending supports schools, Blue Ridge Community College, the sheriff's office, emergency services and other county departments.
The items include new personnel, equipment and other requests. Commissioners ranked each request on a 1-5 scale.

"These had your most attention, interest and support," Wyatt said. "This is a process and there wil be other opportunities to adjust the priorities, there will be more information to come out and that will take this information and work to craft a budget."

"It's a pretty touch task for the five of us to try to make a decision, we try to find all these things which ones are critical and which ones are not as critical as others," Commissioner Bill Lapsley said. "What the five of us have done, we were provided the entire list and we were asked to score for every request. Each of us went through every item," more than 200, and made a judgment ... based on really high — a 5" to "this a nice request but I can't buy it — a 1."

There were 125 items that scored below 4.0, Lapsley said.

"The survey we went through was 40 pages long," Chairman Grady Hawkins added. "Not all the items in the survey asked to be funded in the upcoming budget." Some were for the three years after the upcoming budget year.