County working on budget today

COUNTY — In the first session of budget workshops Thursday morning, the Board of County Commissioners have decided to tweak the budget to keep lifeguards on the beach during holidays, keep the Gifford Aquatics Center pool open and furlough the county attorney’s staff instead of cutting a position.

Commissioners have elected to keep $9,000 in the budget in order to cover overtime costs associated with keeping lifeguards on duty on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas day and New Year’s day. The decision was based on high beach usage on those holidays, given the number of tourists who visit. County commissioners also directed their staff to work with the Gifford Pool committee to come up with a way to keep the pool open within its reduced budget.

The county had proposed closing the pool at the Gifford Aquatic Center for 6 1/2 months to eliminate the need of paying pensions to staff there. Instead, the committee and staff may come up with a plan to reduce the number of days or hours the pool operates.

Commissioners also accepted a recommendation from County Attorney Will Collins to furlough his 7-member staff instead of laying off one of them.

Collins explained that the department would need experienced staff in place once the county’s economy ramps back up.

Also, Collins plans to retire next March. The new county attorney could then evaluate the staff and make a recommendation to the commissioners.

Commissioners are expected to take up the budget for emergency services including Fire Rescue and the Sheriff’s Office later today.

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