The Dukes County Commission will hold a special meeting at 9:30 this morning in an ongoing attempt to draft a balanced budget for the 2009 fiscal year.

On the table is a proposal to slash funding by 60 per cent to three county programs: the health care access program, the rodent control officer and the county engineer.

In a Nov. 28 joint meeting between the commission and the county financial advisory board, county treasurer and acting county manager Noreen Mavro Flanders presented a draft $4.8 million budget for the coming fiscal year with a projected deficit of $179,000. The fiscal year begins July 1, 2008.

At the meeting, Arthur Smadbeck, an Edgartown selectman who sits on the advisory board, told the commission the board would like to see a balanced draft budget with adequate reserves.

“At this point in time, we need a creative approach,” Mr. Smadbeck said. “It’s time to reach beyond our own pockets.”

County commissioner Leonard Jason Jr. agreed and suggested cutting funding to nonmandated programs to present a balanced budget.

“As much as we’d like to continue to offer these services, we’re broke,” Mr. Jason said.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, Mr. Jason and fellow commissioners Leslie Leland and Tristan Israel met with Ms. Mavro Flanders in a renewed attempt to draft a balanced budget. The draft, which they will present to the full commission today, calls for the county to pay 40 per cent of the engineering, rodent control and health access programs. In the coming years, the plan calls for reducing in increments the contribution to the programs so that at the end of five years, the county no longer will fund them.

The plan calls for going to each town during spring annual town meetings and asking voters to contribute the balance to allow the programs to continue. The commissioners today will draft warrant articles to submit to selectmen in all six Island towns, Ms. Mavro Flanders said.

The draft budget includes a $15,000 increase for the county manager position. Ms. Mavro Flanders said the increase is an attempt to attract more candidates to the position, which has been open since former manager E. Winn Davis resigned this summer. The budget also includes $20,000 for repairs to the courthouse roof.