In April 28 IssueBy John ThompsonTimes Journal Reporter
A first reading of the 2011-2012 County Budget outlined how county funds will be utilized in the coming year at a special called Fiscal Court meeting Tuesday morning. Prior to a second reading at the regularly scheduled June 13 meeting of the Russell County Fiscal Court the budget will get approval from the Department of Local Governments and will be published in full in the June 2 edition of the Times Journal.
The budget, as outlined in broad categorize are as follows: Total General Fund $1,958,690; Total Road Fund $1,176,443; Total Detention Center Fund $1,742,428; Total 911 Dispatch $313,424; Airport General Fund $32,171; Airport Project Fund $169,797; Total LGEA Fund $8,418; Total CDBG Fund $200,000; Total ASAP Fund $50,000; Total NSP Fund $33,000; Total DFC Fund $125,000; Total Tourism Fund $100,050.
The total budget is being submitted as $5,909,421.00 for approval.
County Treasurer Kathy Tupman clarified a few changes to the budget numbers from preliminary ones that had previously been released to the magistrates. In the changes Tupman said was reflected was some changes to the jail budget, to include liability and workers comp insurance, vending machines, law enforcement equipment, telephone commission, per diem, and hygiene products.
Judge Executive Gary Robertson clarified that $118,183 of the general fund budget is reimbursement from Department of Local Government for Judicial Center expenses. Items such as this are reflected in both sides of the ledger, as an expense that the county will initially incur, as well as revenue because the county can expect these expenses to be reimbursed.
It was outlined that $130,000 was budgeted for equipment purchases for the county's road fund. Magistrate Ronald Johnson said he wasn't sure that would be enough to meet the equipping needs. "We've got one more year, hopefully we can appropriate so much next year," Robertson said, referencing the sunset clause built into the occupational tax which will automatically reduce the rate from the current 1 percent back to the .25 percent the county has operated under for two decades.
Robertson said the county was able to save nearly $25,000 on insurance costs on county vehicles with adjustments of policy, reducing from full coverage on older vehicles. "That's one of the few things we were able to save something on," said Robertson.
Other cost increases included $38,000 in retirement funding and $11,000 for Social Security.
A discussion ensued about having money set aside for contingency planning.
Robertson said "If we had something out there on a long term basis, that we could accumulate money then these things like the jail that we owe a 20 year debt service on we might be able to pay off in 10 years," Robertson said, "That's what a lot of people fail to realize," in emphasizing how the recent increase in the occupational tax and subsequent revenues could be utilized. "It's not that we're wanting revenue to throw out to places here in there. I promise that won't happen in my four years I'm here," said Robertson, "my goal is to pay down all we can in my period of time."
Magistrate Larry Holt asked if the court was happy with the reserve the county was expecting to get from the new taxation. Tupman replied, "I'd like for it to be a whole lot more. I was hoping it would be a lot more, but there was complaining that, did we need to raise it that much, but we needed about all of it."
Holt said that in a meeting with state officials after the new taxation was implemented he was informed "you all put on about half what you needed."
Magistrate Jimmy McQueary asked Holt if he thought in two years it will cost less to operate than it does now; "It'll take more," replied Holt.
McQueary said he could use $500,000 alone in his district for blacktop "that's dearly needed."
Robertson and Tupman mentioned renovations and improvements that will need to be done to the current courthouse to attract renters for the state offices that will be vacated once the new Judicial Center is opened.
As a part of the budget, Robertson read an order adoption allowing for payment of recurring expenses such as monthly payroll and utilities expenses. Other expenses authorized for pay when due: bond premiums, mailing postage, office equipment and contracts, registration for conferences and training seminars, travel reimbursement, board assessment, election officers, election commissioners, principle on borrowed money, interest on borrowed money, principle on bonds, interest on bonds, property building liability insurance, unemployment insurance, workers comp insurance, right of way deed recording, miscellaneous employee supply expenditure reimbursement not to exceed $500, jail medical required/prepaid medical treatment not to exceed $500, PBS statutory contribution quarterly.
This stipulation allows for the Finance Officer to pay these items without getting separate approval every month from the Fiscal Court. This standing order is routine and is passed every year as a part of the overall budget.
Robertson asked the court to officially implement an investment policy for the county's Fiscal Court. Robertson said he had been contacted by KACO attorney Rich Ornstein that all county judges are required to have an official investment policy signed off on by the court.
The policy, which formalizes the county's unofficial policy, allows for funds that are not being utilized for current expenses or obligations may be invested in cd's or other interest bearing accounts through financial institutions insured by FDIC or similar. Officials authorized to invest these funds is the County Treasurer, County Financial Officer, or County Judge Executive.
The final item on the agenda that the court could address was payment of bills. Russell County Emergency Manager H.M. Bottom approached the court with a $90 final environmental fee to the state for removal of the three gas tanks from Alligator 2 a couple of years ago. The county removed the tanks themselves with oversight. The county is holding the three, six thousand gallon tanks for possible use later. Bottom said he was provided a closure letter for filing that no further fees are due in this matter.
Other bills were medical from the jail, and for registration to a Kentucky Occupational License Administrator (KOLA) membership and registration fee is due. The training seminar will allow for the county's new administrator, Bobbie Garner, to receive needed training.