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Dallas County passes budget

Despite a nationwide economic downturn, the Dallas County Commission passed its $18.1 million budget this week with no layoffs or program cuts.

Probate Judge Kim Ballard said there were numerous challenges, but said because of retirements and other openings; the county retained its employees.

The latest budget, Ballard said, presented several speed bumps. But, he said county employees and commissioners worked together to make the figures work.

“I think Selma and Dallas County comparatively has dome comparatively well, but we have still suffered the same unemployment the nation has times two,” he said. “We are at almost double the national rate of unemployment and when people don’t have jobs they can’t buy things, which hurts in terms of sales tax. That is our largest source of revenue next to an ad valorem tax.”

Ballard said preparing the budget, which is almost identical to last year’s, forced the county to be extremely frugal.

“We should be all the time,” he said. “We have weathered this storm for five years now and have done it in a manner where we haven’t had to lay people off, cut wages or cut services. I thank the commissioners going along with my suggestions and being involved in the process. It made my job much easier.”

Though the budget is the same, Ballard said inflation on items purchased by the county means they are working with less money in a sense. Items like gas and other materials have increased in price over the past year, which means the $18.1 million will not go as far.

To combat the struggling economy, Ballard said county employees have taken on new chores in their daily schedules.

“We have people doing more diverse jobs than they would,” he said. “We can’t take any personal credit for it because we couldn’t do it without a cooperative workforce and cooperative commission. It would have been impossible to have done this. I thank God every day for our workforce and for commissioners that work with me.”

Help from fiscal officer Barbara Harrell, the commission office, and county employees allowed him the opportunity to seek new ways to save money, Ballard said. Their efforts, he added, were invaluable.

“It feels good when you have a bunch of people after the same goal and when you get there,” he said. “We’re still not there. The economy could continue to nosedive, but I’m pretty comfortable with this budget.”
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