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Ada Budget Hearing Shortened With Ullman on Board

New commissioner frequented public meetings in past years

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Ada County Clerk J. David Navarro, who serves as the county budget officer, reviewed the 2009-2010 budget in about 25 minutes Tuesday evening. While a few members of the public attended, along with most of the county elected officials and department heads, no one had any comments or questions.

The silence inspired Commissioner Sharon Ullman to remark that budget hearings will be much shorter now that she is on the other side of the lectern at public meetings. Ullman was a student and critic of past county budgets and frequently testified on budget minutiae.

One factor in the $11 $22 million budget cut is a decline in revenue at many county offices; 24 of the 36 county departments saw their counter sales decrease or remain flat this year, including dramatic drops at Development Services, the landfill and even at the Coroner's Office. Canyon County is ending its use of Ada County for morgue services, opting instead to outsource to a Canyon County hospital, Navarro said.

While the public information department is being phased out, other departments are being cut dramatically. Development Services, which laid off 18 people in the past year, will be cut 47 percent under the budget proposal. The landfill is reducing its budget by 48 percent, largely because a new section of the dump is nearly completed and because less trash is coming in. Indigent Services is down 21 percent, though Navarro said the money for involuntary mental health commitments has just been moved to a different fund.

The Sheriff's Office has also taken a hit in personnel, losing a net of 20 people in the proposed 2010 budget. Overall the county will have 55 fewer positions next year.

Commissioners are taking public comment until Aug. 11, after which they will approve next year's budget.