Tryon faces budget shortfall; implements spending, hiring freeze
Published 3:49 pm Thursday, February 19, 2009
Below is the text of a memo sent to Tryon department heads, supervisors and administrative staff regarding the town&squo;s &dquo;budget shortfall plan of action&dquo; on Monday.
As you are aware, the current state of the Country&squo;s economy is having an extremely negative impact on all facets of life across the nation. This negative economic situation is beginning to hit home here in Tryon. We are seeing an extreme decrease in sales tax revenue, property tax collections are down, the various enterprise funds are not hitting revenue targets, and, to further complicate matters, the state is eyeing local revenues and considering shifting service responsibilities to the local level with no funding attached. At the same time, our citizens continue to expect, rightfully so, and deserve a high level of service in exchange for their tax dollars and user fees. There will be a budget shortfall for the current fiscal year. We must do everything we can to ensure this shortfall is minimal. It has become clear that swift action must be taken to ensure the town&squo;s continued financial health and, in turn, put us in a position to better provide basic services over the long-term. Therefore, effective immediately, the following plan of action is hereby implemented:
Spending Freeze ‐ All nonessential spending will be frozen immediately. Department heads will work with me to develop a specific system that will outline what constitutes essential versus nonessential spending. In short, essential spending will entail those specific expenditures that directly relate to the protection of life, property, and the environment, and those expenditures that are required by local, state, federal, and/or contractual mandates. All essential spending above $250 must be recommended by the appropriate department head and pre-approved by the Town Manager.
Hiring Freeze ‐ Any unfilled positions will not be filled. Furthermore, any positions that become vacant will remain unfilled until economic conditions improve.
Travel/Training Freeze ‐ All travel and training with the exception of that which is required to maintain legally required certifications and/or licenses is frozen. All travel must be recommended by the appropriate department head and pre-approved by Town Manager.
Local Travel ‐ All reasonable efforts will be make to eliminate nonessential local travel. Employees are encouraged to identify ways to share trips in the same vehicle and pool vehicle resources when at all possible.
Grant Applications ‐ All grant applications that require a Town match will be carefully reviewed. Drafting of grant applications that require a Town match must be recommended by the appropriate department head and pre-approved by the Town Manager.
Revenue Enhancement ‐ The Town will take all available actions to ensure the collection of revenue, both current and past due. This will entail a more aggressive collection program that will be developed at the administrative level.
Citizen Input ‐ All Town advisory committees and similar groups will be updated as to the Town&squo;s current fiscal standing and be asked to provide suggestions as to how the Town may be able to reduce expenditures and increase revenues.
Employee Input ‐ All Town employees will be updated as to the Town&squo;s current fiscal standing and be asked to provide suggestions as to how the Town may be able to reduce expenditures and increase revenues.
Sale of Surplus Property‐ All Town departments are requested to conduct an inventory of all possible surplus property. This inventory will be evaluated and all surplus property will be sold in accordance with State law.
Energy Saving Measures‐ Town employees are directed to take all necessary and reasonable steps to conserve energy as much as possible. This includes turning off lights in areas not being used, shutting down computers when not in use, lowering thermostats, and other such measures that will help reduce day-to-day energy costs.
Please keep in mind that this is the first step in addressing the current economic situation. It is possible that a reduction in service levels may be required at some point depending on the depth of the economic crisis. However, such reductions will be treated as a last resort. It is my hope the economy will begin making a turnaround sooner rather than later. However, until that turnaround is realized here at the local level we must continue to take steps to actively engage the situation head on.
One final note, this situation can be managed if we all work as a team. We must face this problem together in order for us to ensure the best possible outcome for our citizens, employees, and community.