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Comanche County approves operating budget

LAWTON, Okla._Comanche County officially has its budget for the 2015/2016 fiscal year.

The County Commissioners have worked on balancing the budget over the past few weeks. Originally, about $10.5 million was requested by the various departments, but it was trimmed to approximately $8.7 million to match the estimated revenue for the year. After about 20 minutes of looking over the numbers and questioning, the Excise Board approved the budget, effective immediately.

Wednesday morning's meeting went off without any form of confrontation between the Excise Board and the County Commissioners. In fact, they were appreciative of the collective effort.

This is the fourth budget County Commissioner Don Hawthorne has been in charge of. He says he wanted to make sure all groups are represented while crunching the numbers.

"The process ought to be open to everyone in knowing what we have to deal with. I think people appreciate that and know just what the challenge is to complete a budget," Hawthorne said.

Each elected official and department head turned in their estimated needs for the year at the end of June, which was about $1.5 million over the current budget. Hawthorne met with all of the groups about their requests twice, and also sat in while they presented their request to the excise board. He met with a few groups individually about the possibility of lessening their requests.

All leading up to the moment where the ink is put to paper. Comanche County Excise Board Chairman J.P. Richard had high praise for the outcome.

"I know everyone worked real hard this year. There was a lot of give and take. We appreciate the efforts everybody made to make everything work," Richard said.

Hawthorne says he feels relieved after the hard work can finally be put in action.

"I think there is a sense of pride because we worked together. This isn't my budget, everyone contributed to it. There is a feeling of satisfactory when you get the budget done, get it approved," Hawthorne said.

The fiscal year started July 1. Since then, Hawthorne says the county has been functioning on a half-budget. This is a common occurrence and the half budget is based on the approved budget for the previous fiscal year.

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