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Greene County faces financial fiasco, county employees may face salary cut

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Bad budgeting leads to a huge debt for one county, and people who live there may have to foot the bill.

Commissioners in Greene County are debating over whether to cut the salaries for everyone of the county's employees.

Greene County's budget is a mess and commissioners say they don't see any other option.

"It is a tragedy that our county has gotten to this point," said one person at Thursday night's public meeting.

"We've cut all the departmental budgets we cut everything we know to cut right now," explained Interim County Manager Richard Hicks.

The current budget is still facing close to a $350,000 deficit.

Commissioners are now debating whether to go forward with a salary cut of about 5 percent for every employee in the county, for the rest of the fiscal year. The other possibility: 3 furlough days.

"It is an embarrassment and we hate to have to take it out on employees, but that's the only thing left to take it out of," said Chairman Jack Edmondson.

Edmondson has cut his salary since the budget is such a disaster. The other commissioners have reduced theirs by 21%. Several people at the meeting said if the commissioners are cutting employee salaries, they should cut theirs too.

Many people in the community say they can't afford to face any more cuts.

"Every time you take something away from him you take away from me and these two little girls," said Sarah O'Brient as she held up a family picture. Her husband works at the sheriff's office.

"The employees didn't get this county in the deficit it's in, so you shouldn't balance the budget on the employees," she said.

"Where has the money gone? Who has mismanaged the money and why is that person not being held responsible?  Why has it fallen on our back?" asked Tina Wood. She has worked for the county for 11 years.

"For 6 years we haven't received the raises we were told we'd get when we got hired so we're living way below the standard that other people doing our same jobs are making," she said.

Even with the pay cuts it's only scratching the surface.

Hicks says they anticipate saving about $45,000 with the cuts. A small chunk out of a $350,000 debt.

And even worse, is next year's budget.

"The 2013-2014 budget which begins July 1st has an even bleaker picture than we're in right now. We anticipate a shortfall of 1.2 million dollars, "said Hicks

The county also spent all of its education lottery funds, close to $500,000, even more money they'll be short next year.

The commissioners didn't sign off on the cuts yet, they said they want to get department heads to talk to all the employees first

They will meet again on Monday and plan to make a decision.

The Interim County Manager has asked that board meet once a week until they can get this budget worked out.

We asked how the county got in this disastrous situation. They really didn't give us a clear answer, other than bad budgeting. Expecting more money then what actually came in, and spending more money than they had.

9 On Your Side will keep you updated as things move forward.

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