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Fiscal court passes $11 million budget

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By Bryan Marshall

Editor's note: All numbers are taken from the county's proposed 2011-12 budget, which has gone through one of two readings before it is expected to pass in June.

Appropriations:

The total budgeted appropriations for the 2011-12 year is $11.004,057, a decrease of $91,000 from last year.

Of that, $5,062,968 was appropriated in the general fund — about $175,000 less than last year's budget.

The bulk of the rest of the appropriations came from the road and jail funds.

"There isn't one department or agency that got everything they wanted," said Judge-Executive Darrell Link. "I always figure that a good budget probably makes everybody mad. This is probably just as good a budget as the ones we've had in the past."

Revenues:

With a combination of state reimbursements, grants and fees, the county has budgeted revenues for the 2011-12 fiscal year at $9,933,710.

In order to match the amount of appropriations, the county is anticipating carry over of $1,070,347 from its reserves.

In his tenure as judge-executive, Link said the average the court has had to carry over yearly to balance the budget has been about $1 million.

"That's a staggering number," he said. "This is actually the dollars that we are taking down out of our savings account in order to balance the budget in which we've predicted revenues coming in and expenditures going out. Yet, we don't have enough revenues to cover those expenditures. Because of our management of funds over past years, we've been able to build this uncovered dollar amount to help balance this budget."

Link said the county has approximately $3.1 million in reserves.

Road fund:

The amount budgeted for the county road fund is set at $1,658,759, about $90,000 more than last year.

Some of the higher priced line items include $267,000 for laborer salaries, $370,00 for road maintenance materials and $356,000 in state funds to blacktop roads.

A one-time expense of $243,139 also was budgeted for the construction of a garage although Link said the project could actually cost less.

"We did not have a sufficient square footage garage for those guys to work in this year," Link said. "It actually increased our operational costs because we had a building down there that we tried to utilize and it wasn't the proper size. We had to leave the doors open. When you leave the doors open when it's zero degrees out and try to heat it at the same time, you can't imagine the amount of fuel that went out the garage door. We're going to try to care for that."

Public safety:

The Grant County Sheriff Office is one department that will see an increase in its budget for the 2011-12 year.

The total appropriations for the sheriff's office is $1,430,693, which includes an anticipated $301,000 federal communications grant.

Link said he told Sheriff Chuck Dills also to factor in a 3-percent salary increase for deputies and clerks at the sheriff's discretion.

Of the more than $1 million of carry over funds, about $467,000 is going to the sheriff's department to balance its budget, he said.

"No one can say I don't love the sheriff's department and no one can say safety of the citizens of Grant County is not a premium," Link said. "A budget should always reflect one's priorities."

The budget also includes $88,000 to purchase a sports utility vehicle and a road vehicle to replace older vehicles.

Because the sheriff's department is renovating a 5,500 square-foot space at the Grant County Detention Center to use as office space, $50,000 also has been budgeted to pay a portion of the bond payment for the facility.

As for the five fire departments in the county, they will each receive $25,000 in the budget from the fiscal court.

"I hope that one day we can establish their own revenue stream so that it doesn't have to be borne by the fiscal court," said Link.

The Grant County Emergency Management's budget includes $85,000 for construction of a building. A total of $112,900 is budgeted for disaster and emergency services.

Parks and Recreation:

The county is budgeting more than $159,000 in operating expenses for the parks and recreation department, about $14,000 less than last year.

Salaries make up for $77,000 of the expenditures while the second biggest expense is $30,000 for recreational events throughout the year.

Last year, $40,000 was budgeted for recreational events.