Kent County Levy Court commissioners have found a couple of ways to shave off the $1.6 million deficit facing the county for the remainder of the 2009 fiscal year.

    Levy Court reviewed several cost-saving measures Feb. 17 designed to reduce its 2009 budget deficit and also cut down on expenses for its 2010 budget.

    The county is faced with a $1.6 million shortfall for this year and approximately $3 million for the 2010 budget.

    Two amendments to the 2009 budget, which would erase the $1.6 million deficit with a bit of money left over, were moved on to a future business meeting for a vote. The first would transfer $1.3 million from the prior year surplus and divide the money into the pension fund and for other employee benefits. It also would transfer $250,000 out of the agricultural land preservation account and put it into an account for special purposes and emergencies.
   In the second amendment, commissioners agreed — with the exception of Allan F. Angel — on moving $700,000 from the economic development and agricultural land preservation account into an account for special purposes and emergencies.
   Despite Angel’s reluctance to move money out of the economic development fund, the remaining commissioners agreed on the basis that the money only would go to pay legal bills relating to a recent lawsuit filed against the county by a group of farmers.
   “This would only be used for costs associated with the Farmers for Fairness lawsuit,” said Commissioner Bradley S. Eaby.
In other business ...

    Commissioners agreed on an early retirement option that will be offered to 34 employees. They will have until May 31 to accept either a one-time $15,000 payout in addition to their pension benefits or take an extra five years added to their years of service for calculating their pension payments.

    If all take the early retirement, Personnel Director Allen Kujala said the county could save approximately $510,000 and another $750,000 could be saved by not filling 14 of the positions.

    A lot depends, however, on how many employees take the buy-out and what options they choose.
   “It’s difficult to say what the savings would be,” Kujala said.
   In the public works arena, the anticipated retirement of one employee has precipitated the reorganization of some of the remaining positions for a savings of approximately $10,000, said Public Works Director Hans Medlarz.

Email Melissa K. Steele at