Treasurer says county finances are in order

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Budget preparation continues for fiscal year 2013-2014

By Calen McKinney

The county’s finances are in tip-top shape, according to its treasurer.

Magistrates continued preparation of the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget during a meeting of the Taylor County Fiscal Court’s Budgets, Audits and Personnel Committee on Monday.

County Treasurer Melissa Williams said the budget she and other county officials have prepared for 2013-2014 is the easiest ever put together.

In the budget, she said, there is $1 million earmarked for blacktopping county roads. An additional $300,000 is set aside for repairs to the Taylor County Courthouse’s air conditioning and heating system.

Though discussions about the nearly $10 million 2013-2014 budget have been ongoing, she said, the budget has not yet been approved and, until magistrates give their final approval to it, can be changed.

Williams said the $1 million for blacktop is a conservative estimate.Magistrate Richard Phillips asked how the 2013-2014 budget compares to past county budgets.

“This is a wonderful budget,” Williams said. “I mean great.”

She said it is “unheard” of for a county to set aside $1.3 million for blacktop and air conditioning and heating equipment.

In the proposed road fund, Williams said, there is $242,538 in reserve.

After some discussion, Phillips said he appreciates Rogers and Williams putting in the time to prepare the budget.

“Well, it takes all of us,” Rogers said.

Williams said the proposed budget includes 3 percent raises for county employees, with the exception of temporary staff members. Raises are subject to magistrates’ approval, however, she said.

She said county employees have helped keep the county’s insurance costs low.

“The employees have helped make this budget work, too,” she said.

Williams said the county won’t receive an insurance quote until at least June. Rogers said he anticipates the rates to be close to those for this fiscal year.

Williams said she expects magistrates to have first reading of the budget on Tuesday, May 14, at 6 p.m. at the courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.

Williams said she anticipates the Committee will need to meet again after first reading of the budget to examine it further.

After first reading, the budget will be sent to the Department of Local Government for its OK.

After getting that approval, she said, she expects magistrates to have final reading of the budget in June.

The Committee also discussed the status of a loan to pay for upgrades to equipment at the Campbellsville/Taylor County E-911 Center and the use of canteen funds at the Taylor County Detention Center.

Committee members also discussed grant writing and the county’s contribution to Campbellsville Renaissance for that service.

Williams said Tony Smith, the county’s information technology specialist, is now certified to write federal grant applications. She said magistrates can consider the county’s contribution to renaissance and discuss that at a future meeting.

On Tuesday, Williams said the county had more than $1 million in carryover money this fiscal year from the 2011-2012 fiscal year. She said she anticipates about the same amount leftover from this year. Carryover money is built into the next year’s budget, Williams said, and is considered surplus but sometimes isn’t used.

Last year’s carryover money, she said, is why the county can earmark $1 million next fiscal year for blacktopping. Nevertheless, she said, $1 million will do some needed road work, but not come close to paying for all that needs to be done.

Williams said the jail, general and road funds all had carryover money this fiscal year from the 2011-2012 fiscal year. She said that means the county will pay less than expected this year to help the jail balance its budget.

Williams said the process of creating a budget begins when three-fourths of the fiscal year has expired. She said she sees how much the county has spent and bases the next fiscal year’s allotment based on those figures.

Though the county’s finances are in good shape, Williams said, state funding has all but disappeared and the county can no longer depend on that money.

She said magistrates, therefore, must be very cautious with how much money they spend on blacktopping and other projects.