BarCo Commission approves budget

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Raises planned to help retain deputies, jailers

Closing out a year where spending came in $560,000 under budget, the Barry County Commission approved a spending plan for 2020 that called for a slightly bigger budget that includes major renovations at the county jail.

During last week’s annual budget hearing, Clerk Jill LeCompte reported the commission settled on a spending plan of $4,464,979.56, a bit less than $30,000 over the 2019 budget.

“We’ve never had to make a mid-year budget adjustment,” said Presiding Commissioner Gary Youngblood. “I want to thank the officeholders for their efficiency and conservative values. They have to work together on the budget.

“The economy is good, if fuel prices stay down. I think that impacts the economy more than anything. If people have to buy $4 gas, there’s not much to spend on sales tax items.”

Revenues were projected at $4,229,488, plus reserves of $824,350.80 carried over from the previous year. Projections included an incremental increase in sales tax revenue of $1,427, for a total of $2,687,000. Charges for services were expected to generate $647,250. Intergovernmental revenues would add another $606,738, plus other revenues of $233,500.

Sheriff Gary Davis, who carries the two largest budgets in his department and the jail, said reduced staff kept down his spending. He has been short one road officer and four jailers. He attributed much of that to the wages the county has been able to afford.

Davis said he has three deputies to patrol 790 square miles in the county at any given time, and detectives to back up those deputies as needed. Cities, if bordering the vicinity of a call, have been willing to send officers to help in emergencies. The major consequence is that it takes time for county officers to respond to calls.

In 2020, the county commission will raise the pay for deputies to $30,000. Davis said that’s still low, when Lawrence County pays $35,000 and Newton County pays $38,000. The lower pay contributed to his office going through five officers in 2019, and one detective, that position opening with a promotion to chief deputy following the retirement of Leonard Collins.

The county had been paying a bit more than $27,000. The base will be moved up $1,000 this year, and applying money from the Deputy Sheriff Salary Supplementation Fund (DSSF), would bump the amount to over $30,000 at mid-year. Davis was hopeful the DSSF grant money would continue.

He further noted the Missouri General Assembly mandated private process servers to collect $10 every time papers are served in the county, and turn that money over to the county to help pay for law enforcement. To date, the county has received nothing. Proposed new legislation would expand that law to have lawyers pay the circuit court clerk.

In the jail, commissioners planned to raise the pay for rank-and-file employees up to $25,000 after three to six months, hopefully encouraging more people to stay and work. Davis noted he was aware Lawrence County was paying an additional $1 an hour premium for persons willing to work in the jail. He thought Lawrence County was in a better financial position and he was not ready to resort to that strategy.

The major new project for the year will be to start remodeling the jail. Northern Commissioner Gary Schad said the work will take almost two years. Commissioners set aside $280,000 in a capital improvements fund, a little over half of what they had initially considered.

The project will remove the white building outside, used for storage. Davis called the 1971 section of the jail “in pretty bad shape.” The project will add 24 beds in a dormitory format for less dangerous persons, which should help manage an inmate population that averages 65 to 70 people, but last summer had as many as 100.

Davis said the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled persons guilty of non-violent crimes should receive summons to court rather than jail time, or are only locked up briefly. Many of the prisoners in the jail have failure to appear charges against them. Davis felt more than half of people with failure to appear charges fail to show up in court.

“We have to articulate why a person should be locked up,” he said. That tends to make the jail population a concentration of more serious offenders.

Youngblood said county buildings remain in rather good condition. Commissioners are looking at trying to finish the second floor northeast corner of the Judicial Center, which was built for a fourth courtroom, if the voters will pass a use tax. The Judicial Center still offers space challenges, which prompted a mistrial when potential jurors and a defendant had a chance meeting in the hall. Davis said with one elevator and one staircase, the possibility of people who should stay separated meeting remains, especially with 100 potential jurors coming in at once. He has worked on having defendants brought in well ahead of jurors, who arrive between 8-8:30 a.m. Staffing at the Judicial Center remains two full-time deputies and two part-time non-sworn persons serving as bailiffs.

Commissioners approved a budget increase for the Juvenile Office in anticipation of higher lawyer costs. Davis said juvenile officers have said if police show up, they can expect to see an attorney present.

The clerk’s budget shifted as she put more of the cost of election workers into the election budget, out of her office, where they might share duties. It appeared less likely that Prosecutor Amy Boxx would pursue filling a clerical position for which she had asked funding. Youngblood said the commission chose to turn down higher raises requested by the public administrator. Otherwise, cost of living increases were approved.

“We have a good group of officeholders who work hard to work within the perimeters of the budget,” Schad said. “Historically we’ve budgeted conservatively. Hard times could fall at any moment.”

“We’d rather have money in the bank than need to borrow,” Youngblood said.

The approved budget, broken down by office, follows, including the amounts and spent in 2019 in parentheses:

County commission (includes major supply purchases like four cars for the sheriff): $288,655 ($389,503 budgeted in 2019, $343,904.14 spent)

Sheriff: $943,211.70 ($910,920.23 budgeted in 2019, $877,865.40 spent)

Jail: $585,512.36 ($580,988.52 budgeted in 2019, $512,456.40 spent)

Prosecuting attorney: $422,521.63 ($418,878.62 budgeted in 2019, $397,265.85 spent)

Treasurer: $49,790 ($49,040 budgeted in 2019, $48,880.74 spent)

Collector: $118,593.25 ($115,503.62 budgeted in 2019, $115,630.93 spent)

Recorder: $68,807.90 ($69,510 budgeted in 2019, $63,756.89 spent)

Circuit court clerk: $19,900 ($19,900 budgeted in 2019, $20,593.04 spent)

County clerk: $76,152 ($66,004 budgeted in 2019, $66,097.32 spent)

Elections: $76,618 ($54,890 budgeted in 2019, $53,446.67 spent)

Juvenile office: $142,222 ($133,722 budgeted in 2019, $128,549.97 spent)

Coroner: $33,000 ($32,500 budgeted in 2019, $29,200.55 spent)

Emergency management $20,800 ($25,450 budgeted in 2019, $16,735.88 spent)

University Extension $33,862 ($32,112 budgeted in 2019, $29,917.79 spent)

Public administrator: $33,517.22 ($31,431.40 budgeted in 2019, $30,558.89 spent)

Capital projects: $280,000 ($280,000 budgeted in 2019, $6,359.70 spent)

Building and grounds: $236,326 ($235,456 budgeted in 2019, $220,200.52 spent)

Employee benefits: $619,500 ($624,355 budgeted in 2019, $564,652.07 spent)

Circuit court administration: $8,165.50 ($7,622 budgeted in 2019, $6,896.44 spent)

Office supplies (includes ballots for elections): $121,825 ($78,475 budgeted in 2019, $75,561.45 spent)

Insurance (property, liability): $118,000 ($118,000 budgeted in 2019, $116,857.37 spent)

Publications: $11,000 ($9,200 budgeted in 2019, $10,292.90 spent)

Rents and leases: $33,000 ($30,000 budgeted in 2019, $32,093.33 spent)

Monett TIF pass-through: $66,000 ($64,000 budgeted in 2019, $65,244.18 spent)

Miscellaneous: $58,000 ($60,000 budgeted in 2019, $44,443.58 spent)

Total for all departments: $4,464,979.56 ($4,437,461.39 budgeted in 2019, $3,877,462 spent, not counting $450,000 emergency fund, set aside but not spent)

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