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Wayne Post
  • New county budget cuts 30 jobs, raises tax rate 22 cents

  • She was notified that she was losing her job the day before Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t until the gavel dropped at the Wayne County Board of Supervisors meeting that it really hit home for Joy Reynolds. There, supervisors voted to approve a 2013 budget that cut over 30 jobs and increases the tax levy 3.24 percent over 2012.

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  • She was notified that she was losing her job the day before Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t until the gavel dropped at the Wayne County Board of Supervisors meeting that it really hit home for Joy Reynolds. There, supervisors voted to approve a 2013 budget that cut over 30 jobs and increases the tax levy 3.24 percent over 2012.
    “I was in disbelief,” she said. “I just looked around at everyone getting up to leave. It wasn’t until someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘I’m so sorry you lost your job’ — then it just hit home.”
    Reynolds is the mother of three children, Hunter, 8, Madison, 6, and Jordan, 5 months. She lives in Lyons with her husband, Cory.
    “My family flashed before my eyes,” she said. “I wondered, ‘How am I going to provide for my family?’”
    Her position as a registered nurse on the Prevent Team in Public Health entailed helping others get the preventative care and education they needed to live healthy lives. But that job will be gone as of Dec. 31. The family doesn’t know yet what they will do. Cory works at Garlock in Palmyra, Reynolds said, but their lives require two incomes.
    Reynolds hadn’t been back from her maternity leave for long when the news came. She recalled with mild amusement saying “thank you” after hearing the news and receiving an odd look from her supervisor. But Reynolds was simply thankful for the advance notice. Reynolds started looking for a new job the day she received her pink slip, she said.
    The new 2013 budget was met with many obstacles for county officials as they struggled to close a $2 million gap and stay under the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap. Approved Tuesday, Dec. 4 with little fanfare from supervisors, County Administrator James Marquette said the $171 million budget is up less than three-tenths of a percent from the 2012 budget. Some $38 million of the budget is made of state mandates, say officials. Pensions, Medicaid, probation, public assistance, community college tuition, child welfare protection, special education/Pre-K, indigent defense, Early Intervention and youth detention are 10 of the top programs. Marquette said the mandates alone exceed the tax levy, or the amount of money in the budget that must be raised through taxes. Mandates and subsidy costs for the Wayne County Nursing Home and Wayne Behavioral Health were the driving forces behind the levy increase, Marquette added.
    The county also used $4.7 million from the general fund to offset the tax levy increase. In 2012, the county used $3.825 million from reserves to stabilize taxes. But the practice of relying on the general fund can’t continue, Marquette warned.
    “The county does have reserves and is in healthy condition fiscally,” Marquette said. “The application of this level of fund balance cannot be sustained long-term.”
    Marquette said the use of reserves was done in anticipation that state retirement system rates will begin to stabilize in 2015 and then start to drop. This has allowed the county to use reserves as a temporary stabilizer for taxes.
    Page 2 of 2 - “If the retirement rates do not begin to stabilize for the 2015 budget and then begin a steady and significant downward trend,” Marquette added, “it will be impossible for the county to continue to absorb theses costs using reserves.”
    Medicaid continues to be the “single most expensive mandate that Wayne County taxpayers endure,” Marquette said, totaling $14,380,896 in the 2013 budget.
    The 2013 tax rate will be $7.76 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 22 cents over the current tax rate of $7.54. However, the new tax rate is still less than that in 2010, Marquette said.
    For Reynolds, it is a time to make some tough decisions of her own — no more cable television, a scaled-down Christmas, she might sell her car and health insurance is a cause for concern.
    “It’s stressful,” Reynolds said. “It’s all the questions and not knowing that gets you at night. I thought this would be my retirement job.”
    She may be out of a job, but she isn’t quitting. Reynolds said it will be business as usual each day as she wakes in the morning and heads to work. She said she works with too many amazing and wonderful people to throw her hands up and give up before her final day.
    “I won’t accept it until my last day,” she said. “I go to work every day and just keep going like nothing’s happening. I was raised that way — to never give up. I’ll keep believing until the door is locked and I don’t have a key to get back in.”

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