JPs continue tweaking county's '06 budget

Thursday, December 8, 2005

BERRYVILLE -- Carroll County came closer to having a 2006 budget in place as the quorum court fine-tuned details, approved most departmental budgets, and sent big ticket budgets, for the detention center, central dispatch, mapping and readdressal, back for reconfiguration.

While the entire budget will not become effective until after the justices of the peace vote on the package, which includes several divisions financed outside of general revenues, there was no surprise about JPs' concerns regarding mapping and dispatch, where $633,801 was requested, but only $296,437 was available to budget, leaving a $337,364 shortfall.

The biggest surprise, however, was the quorum court's approval of $73,571 for the Carroll County Airport Commission, compared to a 2005 budget of $40,096.

While most line items in the airport budget were little changed, $30,000 was requested for building and improvements, consisting primarily of hangar repairs and correction of drainage where flooding is occurring in a hangar.

Airport Commission Chairman Scott Link fielded several penetrating questions, saying that paving had to meet FAA standards, that most hangars are private ones on county property, that the airport office building cannot be rented for anything except educational purposes, and that revenues from fuel sales are currently an unknown as the system is not yet operational.

JP Duane Coatney's motion to amend the airport budget without the $30,000 failed. JP Eva Reeve observed that many things need to be done and that the airport has received inadequate funding for as much as five years due to budgetary restraints.

County Judge Ulys Smith allowed that the commission is having to scrounge to fix a roof, and that many general repairs are needed.

The subsequent vote on the original airport request was approved unanimously.

Friday afternoon's session focused almost exclusively on 911 addressal, central dispatch, detention center, and mapping.

The budgets for those operations were complicated by blending of finances with dedicated telephone taxes for 911 being included with mapping, and jail tax revenues also being used for mapping and readdressal.

JPs appeared to agree that the ballot issue establishing a dedicated half-cent sales tax, approved by voters, allows revenues to be used for both the detention center, now in operation, and 911/central dispatch.

While closely linked, mapping and readdressal are a separate function not directly related to emergency dispatching.

JPs were unsuccessful in getting numbers to jive, with central dispatch showing about a 50 percent increase over 2005, at $493,770; readdressal, including mapping, with $140,101 requested, and $84,660 approved for 2005; and the detention center requesting $1,294,300, compared to $623,713 budgeted in 2005 for about six months of operation.

Ninety percent of anticipated revenue is allowed for mapping and dispatch, which includes a telephone tax, and a grant, comes to $296,437, while $633,801 is requested for the two operations.

Mapping and dispatch was short $337,364, but the detention center budget is $257,966 shy of using all available funds.

The JPs voted to have redrafted budgets, separating readdressal, to be considered at its last budget meeting this Friday at 10 a.m. prior to approval at the regular quorum court meeting on Dec. 16.

Near-perfunctory approval was given to the various in-house automation fund budgets of the county treasurer, collector and circuit court, the county clerk's cost fund, juvenile supervision, court reporter, and child support fund, all of which changed little, if any, from 2005.

Other departmental and operational budgets were similarly approved with comparatively little discussion Friday morning. Most included raises for county employees, including the veterans' service officer.

The public defender's office, which is expected to move into the Eastern District courthouse during 2006, was adjusted to $48,418.50, splitting the difference between costs if located at the present location or in remodeled facilities in the courthouse basement.

The road department, financed by a county-wide tax, was initially budgeted with $1,667,447, which was $802,725 below the 90 percent of projected revenues available to budget.

JPs directed that an appropriation ordinance be created to pay off $88,225.20 owed on a county dozer out of 2005 monies, thus reducing the carry over to the 2006 budget.

The budget for the Western District Courthouse was accepted with $5,000 included to help address long-standing maintenance items, including replacement of plaster lath ceilings, courtroom wood floor refinishing, painting of the court room, and a new floor for the clerk's copy office.

The election commission budget of $114,521 is that of 2005 due to 2006 being an election year and having to plan for a possible run-off election.

The prosecutor's budget went up slightly, largely due to increased costs and gasoline and more travel by the staff both to the detention center and the county's two courthouses.

There was $1,800 added to the coroner's budget to cover costs of a laptop computer and and one-time fee.

Emergency services' budget went from $11,573 in 2005 to $89,057 in 2006, but much of that is covered by anticipated grant funds.

Also during Friday's protracted meeting there was considerable discussion about revenues from housing inmates for other agencies at the detention center. A motion to apply that revenue to retirement of the debt on the facility died for lack of a second.

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