GOLD BEACH The Curry County Commissioners see nowhere to go but up with the county budget.

Dont look so glum, said Commissioner Lucie La Bont to the assembled county department heads Monday morning. It will get better. We are at the bottom.

Youve done an incredible job holding the line, she told them. Thanks for not running off to another county. Im real proud to be associated with all of you.

La Bont believes the countys $521,000 deficit occurred when former commissioners Bill Roberts and Lloyd Olds thought new federal funds would arrive during the fall of 2000 to backfill cost overruns.

Commissioner Cheryl Thorp tried to bring up the fact that there was no money, but went unheard, said La Bont.

The new funds wont arrive until October this year. Until then, said La Bont, We need to continue to look at cost-saving measures in all departments for this year to make up for the shortfall.

She is seeking ideas from the department heads, but has also come up with a few of her own.

The animal shelter is running over-budget. La Bont wondered if the county work center crew could do more of the cleaning at the shelter.

She also thought the Retired Senior Volunteer Program might be able to supply people to answer the phones at times. She suggested the county hold a fundraiser for the shelter.

La Bont also asked department heads to forgo hiring whenever possible for the next few months.

She said building fees could be raised to provide some revenue. Builders told us that our mechanical fees are some of the lowest in the state and should be raised.

Public Services Director Chuck Nordstrom said county fees have to be in line with state fees, but some of them have fallen a couple of years behind state fee hikes. He said some could be raised.

La Bont also wondered if the county could benefit from hiring another appraiser. She said citizens have told her some Cape Ferrelo residents are still being taxed for vacant lots that now have buildings on them.

County Assessor Jim Kolen said people sometimes build without building permits, but not often. He said he could use another appraiser.

La Bont will also travel to Washington, D.C. on March 12 to seek $500,000 to replace the countys crumbling communications towers.

Commissioner Marlyn Schafer said county Roadmaster Dan Crumley had an idea on how to save money by purchasing cars for the motor pool.

Crumley said he has long wanted to purchase replacement vehicles on a cash basis. He said if the money usually budgeted for leases could be doubled for one year, the county could get off the lease system and save the finance charges.

Schafer said the county will have to borrow its cash carry-over from the Road Department one more time to keep operating from July 1 until federal payments arrive in October.

With proper planning, she believes the county can set aside a real cash carry-over for the next year.