GOLD BEACH The 2001-02 Curry County budget is close to being balanced, said Commissioner Marlyn Schafer after completing a week of budget meetings Friday afternoon.

She said the price of erasing the $355,000 deficit will be the loss of a public health nurse, a juvenile officer, an adult parole and probation officer, as well as increased county fees for everything.

She credited all the department heads for coming to the table and doing a great job with the cutbacks.

She said the county employees will do all they can to fill in for the lost positions and continue to provide services.

Schafer was confident the commissioners will be able to present a balanced budget to the full budget committee when it convenes April 23.

She fears, however, that when the March financial figures become available, they could present new problems.

Schafer also cant predict what state budget cuts and county union negotiations will do to the county budget during the next month or two.

Commissioner Cheryl Thorp credited Schafer for moving the numbers around and making the budget work, but objected to services to the indigent being cut.

She said the Public Health Department was the biggest loser this year, as it was last year. She said remaining employees are being asked to do more, but that services will suffer.

Schafer said the budget crisis developed during the last four fiscal years, when expenditures exceeded revenues every year.

She said according to audits never publicized, the county overspent its revenues by $795,919 in fiscal year 1997-98 and $787,837 in 1998-99. That dropped to $521,000 for the current fiscal year.

Schafer said it wont happen again. The commissioners will review the budget quarterly and make cuts if expenditures are exceeding revenues.