To counter a projected deficit in the Greenwood Planning Department’s 2014 budget, the City Council recommended Wednesday that one of two building inspector positions be nixed.
Planning Director Sonny Bell said taking over animal control duties from the Police Department this year affected his bottom line.
"It has already had an impact on my department in 2013," he said Wednesday night during a budget study session. "It looks like we have a deficit of $67,824 for next year."
Bell’s budget paid for an animal control officer, Joseph Fowler, who was hired following approval from the City Council in August.
"That hurt," Bell said, "and our permitting was down for the year."
Councilman Lance Terry said the shortfall cannot be taken from the city’s general fund, "because if we do, we’ve got nothing left."
"He’s not making any drastic changes," Terry said. "It’s just payroll eating him up."
When asked by Terry if Greenwood needs two building inspectors, Bell said "no."
Mayor Del Gabbard said that if the council moves forward with its recommendation, he will decide who gets cut.
"If you guys eliminate the position, I will eliminate the person," Gabbard told the council.
Council members were receptive to Bell’s suggestion that a city position be created for which the cut inspector could apply.
"I think a fleet manager could be a position we could look at," Bell said, "for all the equipment the city owns."
Bell added that the cost of the position, which would cover "everything from dump trucks to weed-eaters," could be split among all city departments.
Councilman Lee Johnson said he would be more inclined to support a position paid for by departments outside the general fund.
"If you can justify legitimately to us, then we can entertain having a position like that," Johnson said. "If you come to us with a salary you think’s fair, then that’s an opportunity for someone to apply for that position if they’re eliminated from this other position."
Gabbard said the issue will be addressed at the council’s next monthly meeting Jan. 6.
Wednesday’s discussion moves the city closer to adoption of its 2014 budget, which is similar in size to the 2013 budget at about $7 million, according to Gabbard. "There are very slight changes so far this year," he said.