The Delaware County commissioners on Dec. 17 approved a 2010 general fund budget that provides no money for employee raises.

The Delaware County commissioners on Dec. 17 approved a 2010 general fund budget that provides no money for employee raises.

Commissioners said department heads or elected officials who want to give raises must find money for them in their already-tight budgets.

If a department has employees working under a negotiated contract that includes salary increases for 2010, those raises must come out of the existing appropriations for that department, county administrator Dave Cannon said.

The budget leaves services intact and requires no layoffs, commissioner Tommy Thompson said.

The 2010 budget anticipates revenues of $62.47-million, expenditures of $62.36-million and an unrestricted carryover balance of $3.34-million at the end of 2010.

The county needs such a large carryover for a couple of reasons, Cannon said.

Most importantly, Cannon said, the county needs the higher carryover to minimize the risk of deficit spending in 2011.

Also, the county's bond rating agencies look at such cash balances to determine a governmental entity's financial stability, Cannon said. The higher the rating from those companies, the lower an interest rate the county pays on money borrowed for infrastructure and other capital projects.

If the county does not spend the $3.34-million in cash reserves during 2011 and revenue does not increase, a year-end deficit of $5.25-million is projected.

If the reserves are spent in 2011, the projected deficit would be $1.9-million. That would require budget cuts by the commissioners.

The county expects to receive about $800,000 in 2011 and $400,000 in 2012 from a refunding of bonds issued in 2004, Cannon said. That will help but won't solve the looming deficit, he said.

The 2010 general fund vote was 2-0 with commissioner Ken O'Brien abstaining. O'Brien had proposed that commissioners hold individual votes on separate departments.

He said that plan would allow an individual commissioner to abstain from voting on budgets for various departments for which he is a department committee member.

One example is the county emergency management agency committee, on which O'Brien sits.

He said he wanted to avoid a conflict of interest when it came time to vote on those budgets.

His proposal was overruled when Thompson and commissioner Todd Hanks voted to approve the general fund with a single resolution.

"Our responsibility is to vote on the general fund budget ... not pieces of the budget," Thompson said.