Budget issue will not affect county workers’ pay raises

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The $163,000 cut in expenses required to balance the county’s $20 million budget will not affect the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the county’s 165 employees – but it will deplete a $100,000 “cushion” budgeted to cover overages during the year.

Commissioners approved the 2009 fiscal year budget Monday with the stipulation it would be amended in October to account for a miscalculation in the amount of revenue projected for ad valorem collections. The miscalculation was discovered during Monday’s budget discussions.

County Administrator Brenda Petty said Tuesday the reduction in revenue was hard to factor into the budget.

“The COLA is still in the budget, but to correct the problem, I reduced the ad valorem tax revenues by $163,000 and deleted a $100,000 line item in the general fund expenditure budget,” Petty said. “This amount was included in the budget in an attempt to improve our fund balances, which means if we didn’t touch that line item, we should have improved the (county’s general fund) ending balance by $100,000 at year end.

“It would also have corrected one of the issues of our audit – that of having negative fund balances at the end of the year,” she said.

Petty said the remaining $63,000 was covered by a surplus in the original general fund budget, a $21,500 surplus in the reappraisal fund budget and by a $10,000 reduction in the jail’s inmate medical expenditure budget.

She said while the $21,500 reduction in the reappraisal budget is a mirrored amount of the monies requested for an additional staff member for the department, the two figures are not one and the same.

“There was a surplus in the appraisal budget of that much, and it was strange that the amount needed to fund the additional employee was the same,” she said. “But the two are the same.”

However, Petty said she doesn’t believe the county can commit the funds requested by Revenue Commissioner Janice Hart to fund not only an additional employee but also a grant project that would provide aerial photos and digital mapping of the county.

“It was hard, but I’m glad we were able to make it work,” Petty said. “It’s just going to be tight.”