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County faces $5M shortfall

COVINGTON - County commissioners are grappling with how to make up an estimated $5 million shortfall to this year's budget.

Commissioners learned of the shortfall over the weekend from a report by auditor Wayne Tamplin during their traditional new year retreat at the FFA-FCCLA Center.

Tamplin estimated the county could be lacking between $5 million and $5.5 million in revenues during this budget cycle, according to District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing.

The shortfall can be attributed to less than expected income from ad valorem taxes, fees and sales taxes, Ewing said.

He said Chairman Kathy Morgan will be meeting with department heads to discuss how they can cut their budgets.

"Everything is on the table. We're leaving all of our options open. It would be premature to say what we're going to cut to balance the budget," Ewing said, when asked about possible layoffs of employees.

Morgan could not be reached for comment.

Commissioners will hold an all-day work session to "go through the budget line item by line item to figure out what we have to do to be sure we have a balanced budget by June 30," the end of the county's fiscal year, Ewing said.

"We've got to live within our means just like individuals have to live within their means," he said. "I've been on the board eight years, and we've operated on a balanced budget those eight years, and I feel sure the current board will do likewise. We'll figure out how to do it."

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.