Monroe County 2014 Budget Hearings concluded Thursday evening (2013-09-19). The following budget proposals were considered by the County Council:
- County Legal
- A fairly substantial change was made here. The Treasurer requested an additional position – Financial/Cashbook Manager, in order to provide required separation of duties for financial management. However, in order to fund this position, the Treasurer gave up a Deputy Treasurer/Judgements position, and reassigned the duties to other staff. In addition, 1/4 of the salary of one of the Deputy Treasurers is now being funded by the Stormwater Management Department.
- Convention Center (including Convention Center Debt Service, Convention and Visitors’ Commission, Convention Center Operating, and Convention Center Capital Improvement budgets)
- No changes made; note that all of these budgets are funded by the Innkeeper’s Tax.
- Veterans Affairs
- Aviation General (Airport)
- Bruce Payton, Monroe County Airport (BMG) Director, gave a presentation on the airport budget and revenue sources over the past 10 years, and reaffirmed the commitment of the airport to keeping their footprint on property taxes level or reduced. He also provided an update on the major sinkhole repairs on the main runway.
- Human Resources
- Human Resources withdrew a submitted request for additional staff. Some concern was voiced (concern that I agree with) that Monroe County’s Human Resources department (1 FTE) is under-resourced compared to the needs and size of the organization.
- County Council
- The County Council’s own (relatively small) budget generated the primary controversy of the night. After a robust discussion, the Council voted to add $10K to the Sophia Travis Community Service Grants program (the Council’s social services appropriation) for 2014. This brings it to a total of $110K, only up from $95K when it was created in 2007. One council member attempted to play this increase against both job cuts for county departments and a possible cost of living increase for county employees; however, this argument was not at all persuasive. The Council subsequently eliminated all contractual services (most of which is spent on the County’s job classification consultant) in order to pay for this increase; however, it is unlikely that the Council will be able to go through the next year without any reclassification requests.
At the end of budget hearings, the Council was left with a combined General Fund and COIT Fund projected deficit (before reversions) of $271,681. This is well within the usual range of reversions, and so it is likely that by the end of 2014 the Council will have in fact a balanced budget. However, note that this budget does not include a cost of living increase for county employees.
From the beginning I have stated that a budget with a “paper” deficit of $250K-$300K (which will be erased by unspent appropriations) would be acceptable to me — if that budget included cost of living increases for county employees (note that the actual cost of living, based on the Midwest CPI, actually increased 1.8%). So we still have more work to do.
The following chart summarizes the budgets for the General Fund and the COIT fund combined, after the conclusion of budget hearings:
Budget Adoption for Monroe County for the 2014 budget is scheduled for October 8th and 9th, at 5:30PM in the Nat U. Hill Room. Changes to the budget approved during budget hearings can be made before and during budget adoption. Public comment on the proposed budget to be adopted will be taken on both October 8th and 9th.