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County budget tops $11 million

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By Calen McKinney

 

Taylor County will have about $11 million to operate with in the new fiscal year, which begins today.

That is about $1 million more than the county had last year, which the county's top financial officer says was a good financial year.

As such, when combined, the county's entities have an estimated $1 million in reserve for this fiscal year.

Taylor County Fiscal Court members had final reading of the county's 2013-2014 budget last Wednesday morning. The vote was unanimous and there was no discussion.

County Treasurer Melissa Williams said she believes the county might have more than $1 million in reserve once final calculations are made as to what was spent in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

"This is an estimate," she said. "A budget is always an estimate."

She said the new budget contains $1 million set aside in the county's general fund for blacktopping roads. At last week's meeting, magistrates agreed to divide that money equally among the county's six magisterial districts.

That means each district will get about $167,000. Williams said that might equate to three or three and a half miles.

Last year, the county allotted $800,000 of its general fund to blacktop roads.

The county will also receive $200,000 in flex money, $200,000 in discretionary money and $65,000 in urban unincorporated funding, all from the state.

When comparing this year's budget to the last, Williams said liability insurance has increased a lot, but she can't pinpoint other increases.

"Just some general reasons, I guess," she said.

Williams said state funding has decreased overall. When she came into office about seven years ago, she said, the county received about $1 million from the state. That has decreased to about $200,000 to $400,000 now, she said.

"So that's when we have to put aside the money for blacktop and we can't depend on the state anymore," she said.

Williams said occupational tax receipts are remaining close to the same from year to year, collecting about $3.3 million, about $100,000 more for the 2012-2013 year when compared to the 2011-2012 year.

The county has estimated it will receive $3.1 million this fiscal year in occupational taxes. It estimated the same amount in last year's budget.

In the budget, county employees - with the exception of elected officials - will receive a 3-percent raise. That will apply to all full- and part-time employees at the Taylor County Courthouse, Taylor County Detention Center, Taylor County Animal Shelter, Taylor County Airport, Taylor County Coroner deputies, Taylor County Attorney secretary and Taylor County Road Department.

Elected officials receive a raise equivalent to the consumer price index, Williams said, which this year equates to 1.74 percent.

While magistrates have typically declined the CPI raise, Williams said, this year's equates to so little that there was not much discussion about it.

Last year, magistrates made $11,215 each. This year, with the 1.74 percent raise, they will make $11,412.50, plus additional pay for Social Security, retirement, health, dental and life insurance, training incentives and $2,400 each for serving on various committees.

A listing of county officials' salaries is printed in a sidebar with this story, as is a breakdown of the county's funds.

The county's general fund has increased a bit for the 2013-2014 year, Williams said, to total $5.4 million. Last year's was a little less than $5.1.

The largest expense in the general fund is the $1 million set aside for blacktop. Other major expenses include a $1.4 million project with Perfection Group to make upgrades to the county's buildings. Read a story about that in Thursday's issue.

Magistrates have agreed to allow the Perfection Group to make upgrades at various county buildings to help reduce energy costs. In all, the upgrades total about $1.4 million. Williams said she has put aside $300,000 in the new budget to pay for that project.

"It seems like a big project and it is," she said.

But Williams said the county easily had the $300,000 to set aside to begin paying on the project.

The county has also applied for a $200,000 grant to help with the cost. If the county gets the loan, she said, that will mean it will pay $500,000 up front for the project. That will mean the county won't have to borrow a full $1 million to pay for the project.

Williams said the county borrowed $1 million to open the Taylor County Detention Center in 2008 and was able to pay that loan in three years.

As such, she said, she hopes the county can pay for the Perfection Group project in two to three years.

Williams said the county contributes $61,692 to help the Campbellsville/Taylor County Economic Development Authority pay for land it purchased in the new Heartland Commerce and Technology Park. The county also contributes $88,308 to EDA's operational costs.

Williams said the county contributes $96,344 to Taylor County soil conservation, up from about $30,000 three years ago. She said the agency is in charge of dead animal removal for the county and that's the reason for the increase.

The road fund increases nearly $700,000 this fiscal year, going from about $1.6 million to nearly $2.3.

Williams said the increase accounts for her knowing how much the county will receive in road aid funding from the state. Last year, she said, she didn't know that amount and couldn't budget for it.

The jail budget totals a bit more than $3.3 million, up from last year's $3.1 million.

The budget estimates the county will receive a little more than $1.1 million in revenue from housing state inmates at the detention center, the same as last year.

Other sources of estimated income for the county are property and other taxes, grants, county road aid funding, housing inmates from other counties and excess fees from the county clerk and sheriff's offices.

This year's budget, like last year's, also includes a $650,000 payment to the city for operating Campbellsville/Taylor County E-911 and EMS services.

At the end of the fiscal year, revenue and expenses for the two entities will be calculated and officials will see if the $650,000 pays for half the combined shortfall, should there be one. The county could receive money back or have to pay more depending on that total. Williams said the county typically receives between $20,000 and $40,000 back from the city.

In reserve funding, Williams said, there is an estimated $323,929 in the general fund, $480,000 in the road fund and $188,345 in the jail fund, for a total of $992,274.

"Which is fantastic," Williams said. "That's just money that's there if we need it somewhere.

" ... I really think this year we're gonna have more reserve money than what's there," she said. "If something happens in the year, you have something to fall back on."

Some years, she said, the county hasn't had any surplus money.

But when completing the books for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, she said, any money in the county's funds that hasn't been spent becomes surplus.

"So, it's money to us," she said.

Williams said she is glad the county is able to have a surplus fund to help in emergency situations.

"It's our emergency fund is what it is," she said.

Williams said the county is able to have surplus money, which will become reserve for this fiscal year, because its money was managed well.

She said expenses were down this past fiscal year and revenue stayed about the same. When preparing the budget, she said, she looks at line items for the past fiscal year and sees if any were overspent. If they were, she said, she researches if that line item should be adjusted.

"You just keep a tight rope on your departments," she said.

Williams said all the county's departments are in good shape. Road department equipment is in good condition.

And expenses at the Taylor County Animal Shelter are down, Williams said, and salary costs for one employee are being paid for partly by the Kentucky Works Program, which helps keep costs down.

"Nobody's suffering for trying to keep expenses low," she said. "I just think we're really, really efficient."