Commissioner Speak Out About Benton County Budget Cuts
Just last week 7 Eyewitness found out the Benton County Sheriff offered to give up his share of money to try and save the library from losing its state funding, instead of passing on the nice gesture, the commission was accused of taking the $30,000 away from both of them. Chairman Dr. Ken Berry said they did not have a choice. "We looked at the budget thoroughly, we had studied the budget for many, many hours." Dr. Berry continued to say the library did receive a cut, one that could possibly cause them to lose state funding, but he said the library cut hardly compared to other departments, like 911 and Chamber of Commerce that were cut 100%. "We all fretted over cutting the library but it was something that we felt needed to be done at least temporarily to balance the budget and get the county back into some fiscal order." So, why did they not give the $30,000 Benton County Sheriff Tony King offered to give up, back to the library? County commissioners said there were two reasons. One, you can not officially transfer money from one department to another within a county budget, it does not work that way. Secondly, the county commission heard the sheriff's proposal a little differently than what he meant. "What we heard was he had an extra secretarial position that he didn't need in his budget and we did wind up cutting that money from the budget." Which according to commissioners, helped balance the budget even further, so the sheriff did help the county. Dr. Berry said there is a very good chance the library will not lose their state funding if the state approves their waiver. "They'll review it and decide if they will grant us the waiver for 1 or 2 years." The waiver would give the county permission to cut the library budget temporarily, without losing their state funding. Dr. Berry said the library will not close, he knew this would be a huge issue, but it was something that had to be done because in 3 to 5 years if the county faces a financial bankruptcy that will be a bigger issue. The county commission will find out if the waiver is approved in 2 to 3 weeks. A county budget meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6 in the court house. The public is encouraged to attend.