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County Commission proposes FY19 budget

By Staff | Mar 16, 2018

After weeks of deliberation, the Jefferson County Commission held a public hearing March 8 to present the budget numbers for fiscal year 2019. The five commissioners received requests for funding totaling more than $27.6 million, having projected revenues of only $25.5 million.

After working diligently to trim expenses and making difficult decisions, the group offered a budget document balancing at nearly $26 million.

According to County Commission documents, the projected general fund revenue intake for the county consists of multiple streams, the largest of which is personal property taxes paid by citizens. Those taxes make up 55.8 percent of the revenue. Gambling revenue, which in previous years had contributed significantly to the budget, still comes in at about 13 percent of the total dollars. Other revenue is generated through charges for services, grants and contributions, hotel occupancy taxes, ambulance and 911 fees, and other licensing, permitting and franchise agreements.

The majority of the proposed FY19 spending would be on wages and benefits to county employees, which eats away about 56 percent of the dollars acquired. Contributions to entities takes a 19 percent chunk of the budget, as well as 7.2 percent, or $1.85 million for Eastern Regional Jail costs. Utilities, repairs and maintenance, contracted services and capital outlay take up most remaining funds.

Gordon divided the proposed allocation into broader categories for those gathered. She said 48 percent of the proposed FY19 budget is allocated to aspects of public safety, which takes $12.5 million of the budget dollars. Public safety includes personnel and operating expenditures to maintain the county sheriff’s office, emergency services and the 911 communications center.

“General government” expenditures makes up 46 percent of the budget – this includes personnel and operating expenditures for departments such as the County and Circuit Court clerks, Assessor, Tax Office, Engineering, Planning and Zoning.

Nearly 6 percent is allocated to health, culture and recreation. The remaining 2.1 percent would be allocated to transfers to other funds.

To trim the budget, the county asked each department to make adjustments and pare down its initial funding requests, adding dollars back into the mix to balance the budget. In addition, the county decided it was unable to fund some requests from outside entities, including those from the Contemporary American Theater Festival and the Elmwood Cemetery.

The county was unable to meet all requests for new hires, including increasing the number of 911 dispatchers and providing an additional staffer for the Day Report Center. The county kept allocations at the FY18 level for the Day Report Center, the county’s libraries and the volunteer fire departments.

The final vote on the budget is scheduled for March 15; the document is scheduled to be filed with the state by month’s end.