Clark County budget vote delayed

Hartley disagrees with funding for some agencies.

Clark County commissioners decided Wednesday to delay voting on the proposed 2014 budget.

Administrator Nathan Kennedy presented commissioners with a more than $156 million overall budget and a general fund budget of about $40 million.

Commissioner David Hartley proposed officials delay voting on the budget until the full three-member board was present; Commissioner John Detrick did not attend Wednesday’s meeting due to a scheduled absence.

Hartley said Wednesday he is not sold on the proposed budget.

“I think we have our priorities messed up,” Hartley said.

Hartley said he’s concerned about the appropriations for the sheriff’s budget, Springview Government Center renovations, the Community Improvement Corporation of Springfield and Clark County and the proposed county-wide dispatch.

He said he’s concerned about the overall budget total, which is up about $1 million. The general fund budget increased by about $3 million.

“If we took away some of my concerns, the total would be much better,” Hartley said. “I think we’re saddling ourselves with real problems here, particularly if we go through what it’s going to cost us to do the county-wide dispatching. I’m in favor of it, but I’m not in favor of the county’s (share of the funding).”

Kennedy said the budget increase is due largely to the additional funds the county received in sales tax revenue.

Clark County collected more than $22.6 million in sales tax revenue, or more than a 5 percent increase from 2012, when the county brought in $21.5 million.

The county’s half-percent sales tax, which officials voted to extend for another three years, brought in $7.5 million alone last year, up from $7.1 million in 2012.

Kennedy said the tax generated about $1 million more than planned. He said the proposed budget would use the additional money to pay for capital improvement costs, pay off debt and build up the county’s rainy day fund, which Kennedy indicated the county would do during the sales tax hearings.

“This is an issue of the half-percent sales tax being a half-percent instead of four-tenths, like the county would like to see, and using the difference between the half-percent and the four-tenths to take care of non-reoccurring expenses such as early extinguishment of debt and building the county raining day fund back up to where the government offices would like,” Kennedy said.

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent raise for some non-union employees, which could cost the county about $217,000. In addition, appropriations for the sheriff’s budget are currently set at about $13.5 million, a 4.5 percent increase, and the budget sets aside $300,000 for the proposed combined dispatch center.

The largest appropriation of $5.4 million, Kennedy explained, is slated for insurance, special expenses and debt service.

“Basically, what I said we were going to do with the half-percent sales tax is exactly what we are going to do,” Kennedy said.

Commissioner Rick Lohnes voted against the pay hike for some non-union employees last week. Lohnes said then that the county budget can afford to absorb the cost of the raises now, but the county’s long-term financial outlook is uncertain.

However, he said on Wednesday that he is pleased to have extra money in the 2014 budget.

“It’s great news. It’s the perfect opportunity to pay off debt and put money into our capital improvement fund so we don’t have to borrow,” Lohnes said.

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