Citizens have concerns on 2014 budget for county
Approximately 40 people assembled in the small meeting room Jan. 10 to listen and participate in a hearing highlighting the proposed 2014 budget for Lincoln County. The Lincoln County Commission chaired the hearing where Dan Colbert, presiding commissioner, shared information on specific funds including general revenue, road and bridge, 911, law enforcement, etc.
“Remember, we have to budget for all possibilities taking into account ‘what if’ situations would arise,” he said.
Colbert explained the specific balances in the budget, projected revenues, estimated funds available and projected appropriations. He said in 2014, the county has a goal of replacing four bridges using local dollars and federal funds through the BRO program.
“Two bridges include one on Sand Run and another on Quarry Road, two which have been deemed the worst,” said Colbert.
Two of the biggest concerns is seeking ways to improve funding for the 911 dispatch and law enforcement. He complimented Sheriff John Cottle for having found ways to enhance funds for his department.
In 2013, the commission took a pro-active approach to economic development by hiring the first full-time economic development director for the county and subsequent budget. They have a commitment from the Industrial Development Authority to offset 20 percent of that department’s budget.
When the floor was open for questions, the commissions fielded several questions primarily on the economic development issue and funding requests submitted by County Auditor Deanna Dickmeyer. Colbert said the critical need for that office is for a completion of the assets inventory. The commission said they had appropriated $20,000 for assistance to the auditor to fulfill this but not placed directly into her budget. Many people said they didn’t understand the reasoning behind this decision. The reluctance to accept the auditor’s position by other elected officials may be a hindrance in her performing her duties and part of the reason for the decision, one stated.
The annual budget serves as the foundation for Lincoln County’s financial planning and provides legal spending authority for the elected officials an appointed department heads. It is a collaborative team effort on all levels.
Sales tax, being the major source of revenue for the general revenue, road and bridge as well as the law enforcement trust fund, is anticipated to increase one percent for the 2014 budget year. Revenue generated from real estate and property taxes is expected to slightly increase from 2013 collections. The 2014 budget also reflects the continued low interest rates being paid on fund balances.
For Fiscal Year 2013, the general revenue fund, road and bridge, law enforcement trust and assessment all finished with a surplus in their budgets. The 911 fund operated within its original 2013 budget. The 911 Center will increase user fees for all municipal offices effective in July. The 911 Center has been combined with emergency management services and anticipates bringing in EMPG revenue. The need for legislation to charge cell phone subscribers a fee for 911 services continue to be a concern for the 911 services as land lines continue to decline.
The budget will now be sent to the Missouri Auditor for his review.