Fiscal court starts budget process for 2019-20 fiscal year

    To meet statute requirements, Pendleton County Judge Executive David Fields presented the fiscal court with a draft budget at their last meeting on Tuesday, April 23. A special-called meeting was held on Tuesday, April 30, to begin the discussion and informative part of the budget process.
    “This was just beginning of the budget process. I will look at some different changes and then resubmit to the court for more input,” said Fields who indicated it could be as early as the Tuesday, May 7, meeting.
    The two new magistrates, District 2 Josh Plummer and District 3 Darrin Gregg, had many questions and that led to discussions.
    “It was a big help to me in understanding the budget. So many abbreviations and all of my questions were answered,” said Gregg.
    According to information provided to the court, the county will see revenues of $3,654,102, but not all of those funds will be available to the court’s discretion.
    For example, a group has applied for a $225,000 federal grant for a recreational trail in Falmouth. Those funds would be considered “pass through” funds as the county would receive them and they must be accounted for in the budget, but the expenditure of the funds are laid out in the proposal.
    Real property taxes are the biggest revenue for the county, and they are expected to only have a slight increase from $760,000 to $770,000 as the previous court held most of the tax rates the same.
    District 4 Magistrate Rick Mineer did caution that this budgeted amount did not include the new tax assessments that PVA John Steele had just sent out.
    While real property taxes are budgeted for only a slight increase, the tangible personal property tax is expected to have a decrease of $7,000.
    Plummer questioned on the nature of the Franchise Corporation tax that is budgeted for a drop from $105,000 in 18-19 to $90,000 in 19-20.
    “Franchises like McDonald’s, General Dollar, and Family Dollar pay taxes to the county,” explained Fields.
    There are two dozen or so accounts that have $100 or $200 credited in both revenue and appropriations because of state requirements. Also, Treasurer Vicky King pointed out that it was easier “to budget things if they think they might get it then to amend the budget.”
    The county receives grants that included help on county salaries and the ambulance funding.
    Fields pointed out that the state reimburses the county $4,800 for election expenses for the primary and general election this year.
    County Clerk Rita Spencer and former Sheriff Craig Peoples both had their office return excess fees to the fiscal court. Spencer returned $95,810 while Peoples returned $37,312.
    The county clerk did collect $311,210 in fees that were used to cover the expenses of the office.
    The sheriff’s office collected $568,300 in fees used in the operation of the office.
    The budgets of the two offices run for a calendar year from January 1 to December 31.
    In comparison, the court’s budget runs for a fiscal year from July 1 to June 30. As a result, only six months of the two offices budget for 2019 will be included in the fiscal court’s 2019-20 budget. The other six months will be projected since Spencer and new Sheriff Eddie Quinn do not submit their budget till November of 2019.
    King explained that the state reimburses the court $110,000 for the justice center. All of the bills for the justice center come out of this reimbursement.
    Gregg questioned the $620,000 for Landfill users fee.
    Fields confirmed that these are the tipping fees that Rumpke pays to the court, and they receive these funds monthly.
    While there is still two months in the court’s 2018-19 fiscal year, they are projected a surplus of $600,000 to carryover for 2019-20.
    During discussion of appropriations/expenses of the court, there was much discussion and concern over the court using funds more efficiently and the fact that there was not a lot of leeway in the budget.
    While the appropriations called for $80,000 for School Resource Officer, the cost to the court for salaries is actually only $15,000. Other entities account for the remainder of the two salaries and are included in the revenue portion of the budget. There are other costs for uniforms, fuel, etc, that would be included in the sheriff’s budget.
    It was noted that the salaries for the judge executive, county clerk and sheriff are set by the state and are not  local decisions.
    The county is budgeting $70,000 for court security and, responding to a question by Gregg, Fields indicated there are seven to eight that work security, and they are limited to no more than 23 hours per week.
    There was a brief discussion that would be revisited at a later date on whether the position of zoning administrator should be an hourly or salary position.
    There was a lengthy discussion on phones and the cost the court is paying. Adding up all of the phone costs for all of the departments, the court pays $16,400.
    Fields indicated that he had listed $40,000 in County Properties renewals and repairs to repair the roof on the old county barn and paint the outside of the sheriff’s office.
    With the decision to fund $100,000 to ambulance district from LGEA funds, there was a lengthy discussion on prior use of the funds for ambulance and what those funds could be used for. Without using those funds, it would run the reserves of the budget down to only $33,000.
    “We are simply robbing Peter to pay Paul,” said Mineer.
    While King cautioned the magistrates that these are only numbers in a budget, Mineer pointed out that “the numbers on paper are our only control.”
    The county has to assume the costs of pauper burials and budgets $3,000 for those unfortunate incidents.
    A missing expense was unveiled during the discussion of recreation. The court pays $24,600 to support recreation. It had been excluded from the budget proposed to the court.
    In addition, a discussion over the funds for special projects. At a previous time, the $20,000 was not allowed to carry over, but under Judge Fields, he had allowed those unused funds to be carried over.
    Presently, the recreation has $16,000 of unused funds and $36,000 in special projects. Whether the annual $20,000 for special projects should be carried over was discussed.
    For the road department, revenue was budgeted at $2,657,964 with appropriations of the same amount.
    The Jail Department had revenue of $604,368, and there was indication that Assistant Jailer Tony Gillespie is getting the county back into the business of transporting felon prisoners for the state/federal that could produce revenue for the county.
    The largest cost for the county in the jail department was the contracts with other counties to house inmates at a budgeted amount of $240,000.
    With the move from Boone County two years ago to the present Campbell County, that is down from $330,000, potentially saving the county $90,000.
    The 911 Fund had revenue and appropriations of $570,430 with the largest expense being the wages paid to dispatchers and radio operators.