As Metro government conducts its midyear budget evaluation for the current fiscal year, parks, public works and the Hospital Authority are the only departments expected to overshoot.
Issues within all three departments have been well documented:
Keeping public golf courses open in the winter, along with sustaining other services, left Metro Parks with a budget overage, leading to the resignation of former Director Roy Wilson. The budget overrun had been projected to be $704,000.
Now, apparently thanks to cuts, Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said he expects the Parks overage to be “more than a few hundred thousand dollars.”
Public Works had been on target to stay within their budget, but Nashville’s recent snow invasion forced the department to pay employees overtime and spend excessive amounts of money on salt.
“They’re going to be over their budget,” Riebeling said. “We don’t know what the number will be yet, but I think it would be somewhere between the $100,000 to $200,000 range.”
Meanwhile, the Hospital Authority, which oversees Metro General Hospital, among other facilities, and provides health services for Nashville’s indigent population, has a long history of budget woes given its function as the city’s health care safety net. This year is no different, but the authority’s projected overage of $1.49 million is significantly less than it has been in the past.
Hospital Authority leaders credit its improved standing to a recently adopted program that gives incentives to Metro employees who use Metro General.
“It’s a lot lower number than where we were a few years ago,” Riebeling said of the Hospital Authority. “They’re making great progress.”
Trouble, of course, could arise for the Hospital Authority, as Gov. Phil Bredesen has proposed cuts to the TennCare program that could take approximately $10.5 million away from Metro General.
Riebeling said he expects to go before the council in May to ask for any supplemental appropriations to make up the budget overages for the current fiscal year in all three departments.
But looking ahead to the 2010-2011 fiscal year, Riebeling has asked all department leaders to evaluate the effect of a 7.5 percent cut. Those analyses are to be delivered to Riebeling next week.
“We’ll analyze those, and some will be draconian,” Riebeling said. “Obviously, some things we can’t do or won’t do. We’ll just have to balance it and see where we are.”