Budget requests total $3.8 million

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Barry County officeholders have submitted $3.8 million in funding requests for 2006. These dollar amounts will be considered during the county's annual budget meeting, which has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 23 in the Barry County Commission chambers.

Budget requests reflect a 14.6 percent increase over the $3,358,533 actually spent in 2005.

According to Barry County Clerk Gary Youngblood, it is very unlikely that the commission would approve all the budget requests as submitted.

"Absolutely, there will be cuts made to the requests," said Youngblood, who serves as the county's budget officer.

This year, commissioners are planning to set aside $200,000 for capital projects. Of that total, $175,000 will be earmarked for the proposed expansion of the Barry County Jail. This will be the third year that the Commission has set aside money for the project, which commissioners hope to begin sometime this year.

To date, the county has saved up $350,000 for this project, which will double the capacity of the existing jail facility.

One of the requests for more money is attributed to a federal Help America Vote grant that the county will receive this year to help make voting more accessible to the handicapped. This increase is reflected in the county commission's budget request of $210,838, which is $95,464 more than what was spent last year.

According to Youngblood, the county will be receiving approximately $100,000 in grant money to purchase handicap voting devices for each polling place. This expense will be an "in-and-out" prospect for the county, Youngblood said.

One of the only departments to ask for a budget reduction is emergency management. This year, Dave Compton, emergency management director, is asking for a budget of $14,587 as compared to the $159,256 spent last year. In 2005, the county's emergency management budget took a huge jump to account for Homeland Security grants received by the department. This year, the department is not expecting to receive grant funding.

Many of the county officeholders are asking for slight budget increases that range from $5,996 in the recorder's office to $7,214 in the assessor's office. Youngblood said these increases reflect a request for raises for office personnel.

Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly is asking the county commission to a approve a $709,100 budget for his office and $456,462 to run the jail in 2006. This requests total $101,427 (9.5 percent) more than was spent in 2005.

Epperly said his funding requests include: money to buy new bullet-proof vests to replace outdated vests; money to pay for ammunition used by officers to be certified on the shooting range; a $2,000-a-year pay increase for all his employees; and funding to hire a narcotics officer.

"We feel with the price of fuel and the price of everything, a $2,000-a-year pay increase is not out of line," Epperly said. He also said funding of a narcotics officer is also a very important aspect of his department's ability to continue the war on drugs.

The Jan. 23 budget hearing is open to the general public. During the hearing, county commissioners will review 2006 budget requests.

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