The Union County Commissioners have ordered office holders and department heads to take another look at their budgets for additional cuts.

The Union County Commissioners have ordered office holders and department heads to take another look at their budgets for additional cuts.

Treasurer Tami Lowe says she has made all the cuts she can and doesn't think her employees should have to pay for the county's projected budget shortfall.

During a Feb. 23 meeting with the commissioners, Lowe didn't pull punches.

"My employees shouldn't have to take a cut in pay," she said. "It wasn't their fault."

After the commissioners learned that state cuts, estimated between $400-million and $700-million were expected to hit at the same time that sales tax revenues were declining, Lowe revised her budget.

"It was none of our fault that revenues fell flat," she said.

Commissioners Tom McCarthy, Gary Lee and Charles Hall sent county officeholders and department heads back to the drawing board in early January, ordering them to make additional cuts.

"There is no way I can get down to $166,000," she said.

Lowe said her actual expenditures last year were $168,000 and she initially sought $190,000 this year before the commissioners told her additional cuts were needed.

"I have to cut almost $13,000," she said. "In fact, it would be $22,000 that would need to be cut."

When McCarthy said Lowe has another employee this year, she was quick to react.

"Why do I have another employee?" she asked.

McCarthy said that someone needed to be hired and trained as Lowe prepares for retirement.

Chief Deputy Treasurer Donna Rausch takes over the position in September 2009.

"And when did I ask for that employee?" Lowe asked. "My point is that her salary, that salary, should have been built into my actual expenditures for 2008."

Lowe said her actual budget should have been $188,000 instead of $168,000.

"Being the frugal person that I am, I didn't ask for anything more for Donna than what she needed in 2009," Lowe said.

Due to budget cuts, Lowe said the office will no longer be open on Saturday.

Lowe said it would have been nice to have been notified of the coming cuts so she would not have advertised office hours.

McCarthy said the commissioners had no idea until they got into the budgeting process what to expect.

The commissioners approved a $19.6-million budget on Feb. 20, which is 1.5 percent less than the 2008 actual general fund expenditures.

Hall said the county will have to use $2-million from year-end cash reserves of $5.4-million.

If the commissioners had known what was coming, McCarthy said they could have done a lot of things differently.

"We wouldn't have given 2.5-percent raises," Hall said.

Lowe said if she had padded her budget she would not be in her current situation.

"I'm the only one facing this," she said. "Not me, my staff."

Lowe said $3,000 in her budget for postage is essential and that training and travel expenses have already been trimmed from her budget.

McCarthy said the budget cutting process has been difficult and that he appreciated Lowe's efforts to control costs.

"We've got to find a way, somewhere, to accommodate that difference," he said. "If we can't get it from your budget then it will probably come from ours."

"That was going to be my suggestion," Lowe said. "Of the $20,000, if I can come up with $10,000 then you guys can go to your fund to find $10,000."

Hall said the commissioners have cut their budget too.

McCarthy previously said that Hall ran the numbers and found the commissioners had cut their budget by 24 percent.

Lee said Lowe was the first county officeholder to refuse to make additional budget cuts.