BarCo commissioners adopt $4.5 million budget

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Relatively small spending increase projected

Barry County commissioners adopted a budget that filled most requests by officeholders and even increased the amount sought by the sheriff during one of the least complicated budget hearings held in recent memory.

Commissioners approved a budget of $4,580,738.71, nearly $9,000 more than what had been requested. The total represented a $62,731 increase over last year’s budget and a 14 percent increase from spending in 2016. Most of the officeholders received all the funds requested.

“A lot of them didn’t ask for the moon,” said Clerk Gary Youngblood. “That always makes it easier.”

Revenues were estimated at $3,892,450, a drop of $132,722 from actual income in 2016. The balance is possible from funds remaining in savings from the end of 2016.

Employees received a 3 percent raise, as Youngblood had anticipated. Of the various departments requesting funds, 18 received full funding as requested, six received less and four received more.

The largest budget, requested by Sheriff Gary Davis, was not only $50,000 more than what was spent last year, but he received nearly $2,000 more than that. Youngblood said Davis shaped his budget on the spending plan of outgoing sheriff Mick Epperly. The commissioners concluded that fuel prices could exceed last year’s rates, so they opted to increase his gasoline allocation, an expense that won’t be spent if unneeded.

Prosecutor Amy Boxx reported she had applied for a grant to cover a victim’s advocate. Commissioners budgeted revenue from the grant into the budget to cover the expense in case the grant is approved. If not, Youngblood said, no extra spending will occur.

Only the collector’s office received substantially less than the requested amount. Collector Janice Varner asked for $16,020 more than her 2015 budget. Instead, she received a budget comparable to the previous year, plus raises, though she requested 5 percent raises, more than the approved amount.

Varner, who did not attend the hearing, said she made her request based on principle. She said the Missouri General Assembly in 2002 authorized county collectors to have a special fund for training, mileage and computer programming. Varner’s predecessor, Misha Hull, had received such a fund.

Varner said under the law, collectors were suppose to keep that fund annually. However, the Barry County commissioners cut the collector’s budget by the amount of the fund the next year, once the law went into effect. Varner said she has asked for reinstatement of the fund, in accordance with state law, ever since.

The Juvenile Office received a $5,000 drop from its request but an almost identical budget as the one approved in 2015, a $10,000 increase over funds actually spent. The Juvenile Office bases its request in part on a projection of the number of cases it will handle in the coming year.

The clerk, circuit court clerk and recorder each received a relatively small reduction from their requests, but all had a 2017 budget larger than the previous year. Youngblood said he decided he could handle $490 less in his postage budget. The recorder had asked for more mileage, and the circuit court clerk decided he could manage without some additional training that had been requested.

Youngblood said he sympathized with the difficult budget situation facing Lawrence County at the present time.

“We’ve been there, and a lot worse than that, before the public passed the eighth of a cent sales tax [that supplements the county’s general fund],” Youngblood said. “We were on a bare bones budget for several years. We’re very thankful to the public for that sales tax.”

The budget was adopted as presented. Line items are followed by a comparison to actual spending in 2016:

Sheriff: $794,448.76 (+$52,793.76)

Jail: $470,405.51 (+$31,336.51)

Prosecuting attorney: $416,345 (+$56,188, includes unapproved grant)

County commission: $239,470 (+$9,736)

Clerk: $70,000 (+$1,018)

Treasurer: $47,230 (+$118)

Collector: $116,407 (+$1,609)

Recorder: $47,230 (+$1,419)

Circuit court clerk: $31,300 (+$9,556)

Surveyor: $4,500 (+$4,029)

University Extension: $40,165 (+$3,795)

Public administrator: $20,739 (same)

Juvenile office: $123,522 (+$9,701)

Coroner: $31,600 (+$7,959)

Emergency management: $12,940 (+$217)

Elections: $54,723 (-$26,331 with only one vote planned)

Buildings and grounds: $212,678.44 (+$8,189.44)

Circuit court administration: $7,622 (+$700)

Capital projects: $280,000 (zero spent)

Employee benefits: $605,475 (+$46,472)

Insurance, bonds: $110,000 (+$1,836)

Publications: $8,500 (+$178)

Monett TIF reimbursement $60,000 (+1,371, sales tax pass through)

Rents and leases $40,000 (+$7,401)

Drug Task Force match $4,000 (none spent)

Miscellaneous: $60,000 (+$38,878)

Emergency fund: $600,000 (+$34,000)

TOTAL APPROVED BUDGET: $4,580,738.71 (+$555,454.71)

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