Budget requests total $4 million

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Barry County Commission will be considering $4 million in budget requests at a Jan. 22 hearing. County officeholders have submitted their spending wish lists in advance of the Commission's approval of a 2007 budget.

Requests total $3,949,581, which is 7.1 percent greater than the $3,686,054 actually spent in 2006. Last year, spending was less than the $3,727,719 budgeted.

For the fourth year in a row, the Commission is planning to set aside $200,000 for capital projects. To date, $525,000 has been placed in reserve and earmarked for the Barry County Jail expansion project.

That project was scheduled to begin this past year, but bids came in higher than anticipated and the jail expansion was placed on hold. Because jail overcrowding continues to be one of the county's most pressing problems, it is expected the project will be rebid in the coming year.

Most of the county officeholders are asking for modest increases in their budgets for 2007 that can be attributed to raises for office personnel.

Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly is requesting a 15 percent increase in his budget for the coming year. He is asking that the Commission approve a $812,980 budget request, which is $109,722 higher than the $703,258 his office spent in 2006.

The sheriff is also asking commissioners to increase his budget for jail operations from $408,378 to $461,791 for 2007.

Epperly said he is seeking to add another officer to his law enforcement staff and is also requesting an across-the-board $2,000 salary increase for all his employees.

"I believe my entire staff deserves raises," said Epperly. "I'm wanting to add another officer because 911 is coming this year and I want to address our response time."

Emergency Management Director Dave Compton is seeking to almost double his budget in 2007. He has submitted $35,874 in budget requests, which is $12,804 more than the $12,783 spent by his department in 2006.

Circuit Clerk Craig Williams has asked the Commis-sion to consider approving $48,715 in spending for his office. This request is almost 70 percent more than was earmarked for the circuit clerk's office in 2006.

The increase is due to the fact that the associate and circuit clerks offices have been consolidated into one office. There is no money included in the 2007 budget for an associate clerk's office. Both offices now fall under the direction of Williams.

A breakdown of 2007 budget requests as well as actual and approved budget figures for 2006 are provided in the chart that accompanies this article.

All budget requests will be considered during the Commission's annual budget hearing, which will begin at 10 a.m. on Jan. 22 in the commissioners' meeting room.

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