BarCo budget requests seek 5 percent spending hike

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Commission plans major jail remodeling project

The Barry County Commission meets at 10 a.m. Thursday to unveil and approve the county's budget for 2020.

In general, the proposed budget shows an upbeat financial picture, with no dramatic shortfalls and incorporating a major initiative to improve the county jail.

Commissioners have proposed setting $500,000 aside for capital improvements after spending a mere $6,359.70 in 2019 when $280,000 was budgeted. Presiding Commissioner Gary Youngblood said the amount may drop, depending on the amount of manageable work undertaken.

"We're planning on starting remodeling the jail this year," Youngblood said. "We want to add more dormitory space. The early portion of the jail was built in the early 1970s. We'll probably knock that down and replace it with a modern building. We plan to start working in the spring and taking a couple years to complete it."

The project would also impact the jail budget. Youngblood said the kitchen, designed for a jail population of 20 and now serving 70, will be replaced. The jail budget will inflate to cover the cost of providing meals in the interim.

Discussion was continuing last week on extending a 3 percent cost of living raise in the budget. That sum had not been calculated for the final figures. Clerk Jill LeCompte expected those details would be worked out in a pre-hearing budget meetings.

Some of the budget saw more gray area because of new staff. LeCompte will be running her first general election and had to project expenses. Ballots will all show up, as usual, in the office supply budget. LeCompte wanted to put election staff costs all under elections and clerk deputies under her office, rather than dividing the costs between the two line items, since some duties are shared. Youngblood thought LeCompte may have underestimated the election cost for four trips to the polls.

The budget for the commissioners was more than $50,000 below the approved amount last year due, even with the acquisition of new election equipment. Without that cost repeating, the commission's budget anticipated a drop for about $100,000 in 2020. Youngblood still planned to have enough there to cover the purchase of four new vehicles for Sheriff Gary Davis.

Another expense seeing a change in 2020 stemmed from replacing the phone system for the courthouse last year, going to one provider for all operations. Youngblood said phones will now come out of the building and grounds budget like a utility, a higher amount than previously, splitting expenses, rather than coming from each office to different providers.

The sheriff's budget remained under projections for 2019 by more than $30,000. For 2020, Davis has requested an additional $35,000 above his 2019 approved budget. Youngblood said Davis wanted to increase deputy wages to a level more in line with officers in other political subdivisions.

"I don't blame him," Youngblood said. "We all work for a living."

Jail spending also fell below the approved amount, by more than $68,000. Youngblood said pay for jail staff was raised beyond the cost of living amount last year, but jail staff still remains short by three people.

Collector Skyler Bowman has asked higher raises for her two full-time employees and part-time staff than the discussed 3 percent cost of living raise. Those increases would boost her department's budget by about $9,000 from the amount spent in 2019.

Bowman said she had a good tax season for her first year in office. Her predecessor, Janice Varner, had frequently asked for funding in her budget for equipment upgrades. The office had acquired a Jaguar machine that had not been used much. Bowman operated one in a previous job, had the expertise to handle it and said that helped year-end operations.

Prosecutor Amy Boxx saw her budget halt at more than $30,000 under projections in 2019. She requested an additional $13,500 beyond the amount budgeted last year. Youngblood said Boxx has an open clerical staff position that she may not fill unless she finds the right candidate, adding that Boxx runs her office "pretty efficiently."

Circuit Court Clerk Craig Williams asked for an $8,000 budget increase. Youngblood said some of that stemmed from an office supply request that the commission would reallocate to a different line item.

The Juvenile Office, which has a budget split between Barry, Lawrence and Stone counties in the 39th Judicial Circuit, saw its budget stay more than $5,000 under the approved amount in 2019. Chief Juvenile Officer Jill Braden asked for another $8,500 beyond 2019’s budgeted total as she anticipated increases in fees for attorneys handling juvenile cases.

The public administrator, who has generally had a steady budget, requested a $12,500 increase. LeCompte said Administrator Keith Daniels also wants to give raises beyond the cost of living amount.

Youngblood noted the county has been fortunate in having good health among its employees and did not see any major increases in the offing for health insurance. Property and liability insurance anticipated no increase over the amount spent in 2019. Spending from the miscellaneous budget fell 25 percent below budget in 2019. Youngblood said that line item serves as a catch-all for any unexpected expenses.

Other offices appeared to have fairly even spending projections heading into 2020.

Budget requests of $5.16 million projected a 5.6 percent increase in spending over 2019. Requests by department and categories follow, compared to the actual amount spent in 2019 in parentheses:

Sheriff: $945,126.84 ($877,865.40 spent in 2019)

Jail: $591,737.36 ($512,456.40)

Prosecuting attorney: $423,367.79 ($385,367.85)

County commission: $289,655 ($343,904.14)

Clerk: $78,197.84 ($66,097.32)

Treasurer: $49.790 ($48,880.74)

Collector: $124,263.62 ($115,630.93)

Recorder: $69,007.90 ($63,756.89)

Circuit court clerk: $28,000 ($20,593.04)

University Extension: $33,862 ($29,917.79)

Public administrator: $43,923.88 ($30,558.89)

Juvenile office: $142,222 ($128,549.97)

Coroner: $32,500 ($29,200.55)

Emergency management: $20,800 ($16,735.88)

Elections: $63,436.04 for four elections ($54,446.67 for two elections)

Buildings and grounds: $236,326 ($220,200.52)

Circuit court administration: $7,165 ($6,896.44)

Employee benefits: $619,500 ($576,280.07)

Capital projects: $500,000 ($6,359.70)

Insurance for property, liability: $118,000 ($116,857.37)

Publications: $11,000 ($10,292.90)

Rents and leases: $33,000 ($32,093.33)

Monett TIF reimbursement: $66,000 ($65,244.18, pass through)

Office supplies $118,775 includes ballot printing costs for elections ($75,561.45 in an off-year election)

Miscellaneous: $58,000 ($60,000)

Emergency fund: $450,000 ($450,000; state law required percentage of budget, rolls over if unspent)

Editor’s note: Multiple edits have been made to this story that are not in print. Figures in the article regarding capital improvements, the commissioners’ budget, the sheriff’s budget, the jail budget, the prosecutor’s budget, the juvenile office budget and the miscellaneous budget have been adjusted. Most previously stated the respective offices had overspent, when in fact, they had underspent. Actual amounts spent in 2019 at the end of the article have also been adjusted, as most had the approved budget amount listed, not the actual amount spent in 2019.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: