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Commission focusing on '07 budget information

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

BENTON -- This year's budget process should provide Scott County commissioners with some valuable data related to decisions made in 2006.

Preparing the county's operating budget is "one of the first things we work on at the beginning of the new year," Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said during the regular County Commission meeting Tuesday.

With the target date for the approval of the 2007 budget being Feb. 1, he said the budget will be the focus for commissioners over the next couple of weeks.

Budget requests from county offices are to be submitted to the county clerk's office by Friday, according to County Clerk Rita Milam. "I've already got several in," she said.

Preliminary figures for 2006 indicate only 78 percent of what was budgeted was spent from the county's general revenue fund, according to Ziegenhorn.

"None of the county funds went over what was budgeted," he said. "So we have money left over instead of spending money we didn't have."

One thing commissioners will look at during the budget preparation is medical expenses at the county jail for 2006 -- the first year the county has tried contracting for medical services there -- as compared with 2005 "to see if we actually saved money," Ziegenhorn said.

He said commissioners will also compare food service costs at the jail for 2006 with 2005's costs. In 2006 the county contracted for food service at the jail instead of purchasing food and hiring staff to prepare meals.

"So far it looks like it was a good decision to contract for these things," Ziegenhorn said. "I think it has been a benefit for the county."

In addition to saving money, the county was also able to reduce its liability, he added.

Ziegenhorn said 2006 was also the first full year for concessions revenue and prisoner phone service revenue at the county jail.

In other county business, county officials have notified the governor's office of the vacancy in the second district associate county commissioner's position. The position was formerly occupied by Jamie Burger who became presiding commissioner Jan. 1.

"So hopefully the governor's office will respond back to us fairly quickly on making that appointment," Ziegenhorn said. "We're looking forward to working with that person."

He noted with a new associate judge for Circuit Court Division 5, Scott Horman, the new 911 director, Lisa Mullin, and the new highway superintendent, Norman Brant, "we're starting out with a lot of new people as well as a new commissioner."

Ziegenhorn also pointed out the recent reappointments of Jim Schwaninger to another term as delegate and Ed Dust, director of the Sikeston Department of Economic Development, to another term as alternate delegate to represent the county for the Southeast Missouri Economic Development Alliance.

Ziegenhorn said he recommended the reappointments as Schwaninger and Dust have been done a good job representing the county.

A not-for-profit organization, SMEDA was created to stimulate and enhance economic development in the six counties in the Bootheel.