According to Hamann, this is for three reasons. First, the County has begun using its self-insurance fund to pay benefits. Second, it borrowed money to pay off part of the swaption instead of dipping into reserves. Third, as a result of bond refinancing, it was able to avoid a debt service payment due on October 1.
Hamann was proud to report that the County has managed to retain its AA bind rating.
But there are still clouds on the horizon.
Hamann noted that Gracedale, the County-owned nursing home, is in need of "Major repairs." Council President John Cusick noted that the County will still be paying $4 million for operations at nursing home next year. Despite a private management firm, it continues to lose money.
In addition to Gracedale, Hamann noted that 2/3 of the County's revenue comes from the state and federal governments. The state, in particular, has made substantial reductions in payments for human services.
Council President John Cusick noted that, despite a declining tax base, the annual pension cost next year will be $12.5 million. Fifteen per cent of the County's real estate tax revenue will have to pay for the pension.
In addition to these concerns, the County is looking down the barrel of $19.6 million in bridge replacements and repairs over the ext three years, which will almost certainly require a bond. Council member Lamont McClure argued against including these cost projections in the capital plan, but Cusick countered, "Repairing bridges has been a core function of government since the Roman Empire."
This budget appears to include (I'm not entirely sure) an across the board 2.25% wage hike for its non-union staffers.
Here's a sampling of some of the wages:
|county council solicitor||$50,124||$51,252|
|first ass't cty solicitor||$47,268||$48,332|
|ass't cty solicitor (4)||$40,686||$41,601|
|assistant das (7 pt)||$43,377||$44,352|
|chief public defender||$55,399||$56,646|
|first ass't public defender||$55,260||$56,503|
|ass't public defender (14)||$43,377||$44,352|
Full-time Assistant DAs and public defenders will have a salary that ranges between $61,901 and $92,080, depending on years of service. Cabinet level officials will be paid between $81,594 and $121,373.