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Officials pass '08 budget

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Scott County commission news

BENTON -- Scott County commissioners approved the county's annual operating budget for 2008 during their regular meeting Tuesday.

"All in all, I feel pretty confident about what we've done in this budget," Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said. "There are always unknown variables, but barring a disaster, we're solvent for this year."

The general revenue fund started 2007 with a balance of $1,129,183 with actual revenues for the year totaling $3,404,446. General revenue expenditures for 2007 were $3,181,851 leaving 2008 with $1,351,778 to begin the year with.

Estimated revenue for the general revenue fund in the 2008 budget is $3,305,827. With $4,453,406 in approved appropriations, the fund's balance is projected to be only $204,199 at the end of the year.

Projected 2008 sales tax revenue for general revenue is $1.7 million.

"To be on the safe side I estimated that a little lower," said County Clerk Rita Milam, budget officer for the county. "Hopefully it will be a lot higher."

Milam noted that while $1.778 million in sales tax was collected for general revenue in 2007, it was a substantial increase over the $1.634 million in 2006.

Also, while 2008 appropriations are well above 2007's actual expenditures, county officials may not actually spend that much over the next year.

"You have to allow the funds to be there in case they're needed," Milam said. "Every elected official requested what they thought they needed -- they didn't put a big sum in there. Everybody's done really well about requesting (a reasonable amount)."

Burger pointed out that in 2007, approved appropriations were $4.285 million for general revenue but only $3.182 million was actually spent.

"That's where our carryover is created," Burger said. "Every year since I've been here, that's the way it's been."

Burger said he expects actual expenditures to again end up being lower that appropriated. Additionally, officials hope the actual revenue will come in higher than the conservative projection.

A transfer of $1.432 million from the general revenue fund to the law enforcement fund is budgeted for 2008.

In 2007, a transfer of $1.04 million was approved but only $995,198 was actually transferred -- down from $1.494 million in 2006.

Estimated revenues for the law enforcement fund this year are $3,658,859 with no carryover funds from 2007.

Budgeted appropriations match revenues to the penny for a projected ending fund balance of zero.

The law enforcement fund's actual revenues and expenditures in 2007 were both $3.552 million.

As usual, the road and bridge department will not receive any transfers from general revenue.

"They never have since I've been here and they won't this year," Burger said. "They stand on their own."

Estimated revenues for 2008 in the road and bridge fund are about $1.15 million plus $129,594 in money carried over from 2007.

With $1.172 million in appropriations, the projected ending fund balance is $106,682.

Actual road and bridge expenditures for 2007 totaled $1.09 million with actual revenues coming in at $1.16 million.

Milam noted in her budget message that: "An employee incentive check in the amount of $300 will be issued to each employee that meets the criteria. ... The elected officials will not receive the $300 or any increase in salary."

"We felt the employees needing something, not nothing," Burger said.

Commissioners also did not want to budget in a raise that the county would then be obligated to but unable to afford in the future, however.

"This is a one-time employee incentive," Burger said. "I'll be the first one to say I think our employees deserve more."

The county currently has about 100 full-time employees.