PROVO — The budget battle has begun.

Utah County departments submitted funding requests that exceeded by about $5.5 million the amount of money county commissioners say they have to spend.

Commissioners sent a memo to all Utah County departments at the end of August telling them the parameters they needed to stay within this year's budget. Another memo was sent several weeks ago telling them that if they had projects that needed to be funded, they should put those in the budget, as well.

Every department, however, turned in higher amounts than allowed, said Steve White, Utah County Commission chairman.

"We sat down as a commission and said this is our growth strain, this is what we have in revenue, this is your budget, and a few people listened," White said.

Expecting and asking for more money than what is available is common in a tentative budget because everyone puts their needs and wants, said Bryan Thompson, Utah County clerk/auditor.

Thompson said none of the current programs and services each department provides for the county is expected to be cut, but some other projects will be held until next year or redesigned to reduce cost.

The county government, which includes the county sheriff's office, commission offices and 21 others, has a budget of about $84 million this year. The county receives between $1.3 and $1.6 million in new revenue every year, White said.

New budgets address rising costs for departments due to inflation and other cost increases, such as for fuel. County growth is also taken into account, with more resources needed for an influx of people. Estimated population numbers from the state put Utah County's population at just over 500,000.

Growth puts financial pressure on all county departments, including the clerk's office, which must purchase more voting machines. Funds for voting machines come out of the capital fund, while the money for all other departments come out of the general fund.

Thompson said the county needs to purchase about 300 more machines in order to have enough to keep up with voting demands. The county will purchase 150 in 2008 and another 150 in 2009, budgeting about $450,000 each year for the machines.

He added that if the county didn't need to spend the money on the voting machines, it would not be added to the general fund budget, but would be used for office remodels and other operating needs.

White said the county will make the amount of funds available work for each department because the only way to increase the county's revenue is to raise taxes.

The county commission will approve the final budget in its weekly commission meeting Dec. 4.


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