Three speak during annual budget hearing

The business at Pine Street was not all political last night. Before the voter-counters did their work, Oconee County Council welcomed the public for the annual hearing on the new budgets. Three men took to the lectern with questions and observations about how the county and the public schools will spend over the next 12 months, with a former county councilman doing most of the talking. Steven Moore, who also served previously as a school trustee, left the county fathers with several suggestions as to how to save money. Saving money is a prime consideration for the council, as budget chairman Reg Dexter once again complained that the state’s failure to fully fund the local government fund has forced the county to make unpopular cuts. Moore last night urged the council to exempt the county’s elected officeholders from annual pay raises for the county’s rank-and-file employees. Moore takes the position that an elected official should be satisfied with the salary available to his office at the time he runs and should accept that amount through his term—unless he or she can justify an increase. As for local funds spent on the public schools, Moore urged the council to exercise a greater control. Richard Hughes and Richard Marcengill also spoke, with Marcengill asking the council for a study to gauge the level of spending as compared to counties of a similar size. Councilman Paul Corbeil said that kind of information is available, and he urged Marcengill to see County Administrator Scott Moulder for it.