Approved county budget is more than requested

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Although the Barry County Commission adopted another conservative budget for 2011, an increase in sales tax revenue, a grant and a donation, allowed commissioners to approve slightly more funding than was requested by county officeholders.

After a public hearing on Jan. 19, the commission approved a $3.6 million spending plan, which is $121,430 more than requested.

Based on the 2012 budget message, the county is expecting their half-cent sales tax to generate $1.8 million, which is 1.15 percent less than 2011 sales tax receipts. The sales tax represents 51 percent of the county's revenues. The county does not receive property tax revenue.

"That is a conservative figure," said Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner. "We would rather be safe than sorry. Financially, we were up in December, but the next year is anybody's guess."

In addition to sales tax revenue, the county anticipates that it will receive the following revenues: $756,025, intergovernmental revenues; $683,550, service fees; and $250,700, other revenue.

The county will carry over $142,381 from the 2011 budget in order to boost the $3,490,275 estimated revenue projection to $3,611,573, which will be used for operations in 2012.

"I think every officeholder worked hard to cut their budgets and help with the finances to enable us to put this budget together," said Warren. "This was a tough budget to put together.

"We stayed on the safe side," said Warren. "We didn't want to put ourselves in a position where we might have to lay off additional staff members later in the year."

The approved budget provides less revenue for the collector's office, circuit court administration and the University of Missouri Extension office than was originally requested. The Extension office took the largest funding cut with its budget reduced by $10,000.

"Funding was cut for that office just to balance the budget," said Gary Youngblood, county clerk and budget officer. "They have some reserves that they plan to use this year."

By reducing funding in other areas, the commission was able to restore $32,000 to the Barry County Sheriff's Department. Sheriff Mick Epperly requested $564,350, but will receive $596,350.

"The sheriff's office had been asked to reduce the number of officers by four," said Warren, "but with the bump in sales tax, the reduction will only be three officers. The sheriff also reduced his staff at the jail."

Youngblood said the additional funding will provide $22,000 for one additional deputy. He also reported that the county DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program would be restored.

"We believe DARE is pretty important, and we have supported it throughout the years," said Epperly. "This week, I had an anonymous caller who said they would donate $10,000 toward the DARE program.

"The DARE officer was moved into a full-time bailiff position at the judicial center," said Epperly. "This will allow us to hire one part-time bailiff to work in his place at the judicial center when he is presenting the DARE Program at area schools."

The county was also able to restore a portion of the funding cut from the Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force thanks to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG). The task force will receive $188,190 instead of $112,914, which was requested.

"We want to thank all of the officeholders," said Warren, "and Gary did a good just of putting the budget together. All of the officeholders were very understanding this year and helped us out."

Barry County employs around 70 individuals For the fifth consecutive year, the county was unable to give those employees pay raises.

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