The draft budget projects total receipts of $15.98 million, and budget expenses of $15.58 million.
The general fund is projected to have a $1.43 million surplus at the end of next year, with receipts at $12.83 million and expenses at $11.40 million.
The jail fund is expected to have a $1.03 million deficit. The county would have to make up that deficit from its general fund, and that amount is included in the general fund’s projected numbers.
The road fund, the Local Government Economic Assistance fund and the special reserve fund should be balanced.
The courtroom was unusually packed, as numerous county employees from the Clark County Fire Department, the Clark County Road Department and the Clark County Detention Center, who have some of the lowest wages in the government, asked commissioners to consider including pay raises in next year’s budget. Employees said it was time to “trim the fat” and get back to funding the basic necessities.
“I think a lot of the county employees tend to look at basic services, (and) that doesn’t include that pool, that doesn’t include parks and rec. They look at the budget and say, ‘OK Community Foundation, or pool, or parks and rec — these things are more important and more basic than employers meeting the needs of the employees with the cost of living going up just in this one year?’” said Finance Officer Ranee Bruce. “And I think that’s the question. Why are those services, which aren’t basic services, more important than the county raises?”
County commissioners said they do not have the money at this time to include pay raises. Branham said, however, if the commissioners are allowed to add pay raises to the budget after it is approved, and if first quarter revenue numbers are good in November, they will add them in.
Currently, the budget includes about $16,000 in one-time pay raises, which are typically distributed around Christmas. Full-time employees would receive $150, and part-time employees would receive $100, Branham said.
Over the last few months, commissioners JoEllen Reed and Vanessa Rogers have been working with department heads to revamp employee evaluations. Reed said it is an effort that those involved hope will bring up salaries for workers at the bottom end of the pay scale.
“And that’s what’s going to be our priority over the next few months. ... I don’t know how some of you survive," Reed said. "I’ve been told ... that there are even some people of the Road Department who are on food stamps. And that is fine to do that, but it’s a shame that you have to do that.
“And to me, shame on the county that you’re in that position.”
Another point commissioners discussed was increasing funding to the Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation Department from $194,000 to $254,000. Commissioners decided to postpone that increase until they see how revenue numbers are in November.
Director of Finance Cheryl Wills suggested that the county increase the amount it collects on insurance premium taxes from 4 percent to 8 percent to increase county revenues, but commissioners did not take action. Branham said it is an issue that the court will have to revisit in the future.
Branham will present this budget draft to the Fiscal Court at its meeting Wednesday. The court will vote on a first reading in May and then vote on a second reading before July 1, as mandated by law.
Contact Katie Perkowski at email@example.com.