Thomas was quick to point out that although county finances were being discussed in these meetings, no actions were going to be taken and that these budget requests often greatly differ from the actual money available for funding.

In an effort to be more transparent with county finances, the Camden County Commission began hosting preliminary budget discussions with department heads on Tuesday.

The goal of the meetings is to prepare for the 2017 budget, and the commission plans to meet with each of the elected officials to go over wish-list requests. Because no official action is being taken, the meetings are merely administration discussions, but have been announced to the public on official agendas.

“What we do is go over the original papers, we have it going back to 2014 actual, 2015 actual, 2016 budget and then up to date. We meet with elected officials and listen to thieir wish list. This is what they would like to get,” First District Commissioner Bev Thomas said. “And until we get everybody’s wish list there is no way we approve or disapprove anything because we have to see how all of the wish lists apply to what can actually be funded.

The commission met with Planning and Zoning Administrator Kim Willey at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, before meeting with the Wastewater Department at 11 a.m. and with County Clerk Rowland Todd at 3 p.m.

A closed session was also scheduled for 1 p.m. but Thomas had to leave early due to a family medical emergency and Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber was absent, so it was officially canceled.

Additional budget meetings have been scheduled Wednesday which include the Road and Bridge Department and Collector’s Office.

“At some point in time, after we get through all of these, it’ll be the chopping block of what we actually want to get to,” Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty said.

Thomas was quick to point out that although county finances were being discussed in these meetings, no actions were going to be taken and that these budget requests often greatly differ from the actual money available for funding.

“It’s strictly based on whatever funds are going to be available. It has nothing to do with whether it’s a worthwhile project or expense,” Thomas said. “Even if they have great justification, if we can’t afford it, it’s not going to happen.

“The bottom line money is the number one item and two and three don’t matter.”