Budget year will be 'extremely tight'
BENTON - Lower revenues and another year of boarding prisoners in other counties' jails will put the squeeze on Scott County finances in 2002.
Commissioners adopted the 2002 budget during Tuesday's county commission meeting following a public hearing.
"This is going to be an extremely tight budget year," said Martin Priggel, presiding commissioner. "We knew that already."
Revenues are expected to be lower in 2002 than 2001 due to "the downturn in the economy," according to Commissioner Jamie Burger. January revenues are down approximately 5 percent from last year, Burger said.
Last year, the half-cent law enforcement tax and half-cent general revenue tax generated less than the $1.5 million each predicted in the 2001 budget. "This year we're estimating $1.4 million," said Priggel.
In her budget message, County Clerk Rita Milam wrote that revenue will also be affected by changes in state fees and reimbursements.
"The budget's tight everywhere; there's no money," said Milam. "I don't feel there's any cushion this year at all."
If revenues and expenditures end up as budgeted, Milam said the general revenue fund will end 2002 with a balance of only $12,119.
The year started with $886,341 in general revenue due to money collected for the renovation of the courthouse that is yet to be spent.
The budgeted amount for renovations has dropped from the $500,000 budgeted in 2001, however. "This year the budget only allows $200,000," said Milam.
In addition to the capitol improvements to the courthouse, officials expect housing prisoners in other jails to be a large expenditure once again.
Last year $566,196 was spent to house prisoners in other jails, as compared with $269,744 in 2000 and $68,938 in 1999. The 2002 budget allocates $500,000 to board prisoners out of county while the new jail is completed.
Officials hope the new Scott County jail will be housing prisoners by the end of the year.
The budget also includes about a 2.5 percent cost of living raise for county employees, according to Priggel, although increased health insurance premiums may take up most of that.
"The elected officials and their staffs have once again done their part in performing their duties at the lowest cost possible," Milam concluded.
In other Scott County news:
* Jan Foster of the Sand Hill subdivision presented commissioners with documentation showing the county accepted the subdivision's gravel road in January 1999 just before changing policy to only accept paved roads.
"You were the last one that got in, it looks like," said Priggel. "Evidently it belongs to the county."
Commissioners agreed to make sure the road receives the appropriate maintenance.
* Harlan Duncan, road and bridge department supervisor, said several area farmers have asked him about forming a circuit court drainage district east of Highway 61.