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Wood County trims '03 budget by $1.6M

BOWLING GREEN - Wood County commissioners yesterday approved a 2003 budget that cuts expenditures by $1.6 million but allows for hiring four employees and increasing salaries.

Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said the $33.7 million general fund was trimmed “virtually all over in any number of categories.”

“We tried to decrease nonessential expenditures anywhere we could while still trying to maintain our operations and keep our employees and reward our employees,” he said.

While the spending plan eliminates $125,000 for a merit pay program that had been in place since 1999, it grants 3 percent salary increases to employees in commissioner-related departments as well as the prosecutor's and recorder's offices. All other elected officials and departments will receive a 3 percent increase in their salary fund to distribute to employees as they choose.

Last year, commissioners instituted a freeze on new positions but yesterday they approved funding for four new positions in the 2003 budget: a deputy recorder, a deputy clerk, a transport deputy, and the upgrading of a part-time cook at the jail to full time.

For the fifth year, commissioners allocated additional money to the county engineer to continue replacing bridges, but decreased the amount from $1 million last year to $500,000 for 2003.

Plans for the new year include paying for design of a new facility for the county engineer's offices and for construction of an atrium at the courthouse complex that would provide greater security and access. The state is funding $1 million of the $2.2 million atrium project.

Mr. Kalmar said moving the engineer's office out of the county office building would free up badly needed space for other offices such as the clerk of courts.

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