Final budget adoption in August
In an effort to complete the 2015 Butler County budget in a timely manner, the Butler County Commissioners held a work session Monday morning to review all of the county departments' individual budget requests.
"I hope that after going through the details with the department it will allow us to look at the big picture," began Finance Director Ryan Adkison. "Overall, the assessed evaluation went up .86 percent for the 2015 year."
"We lost $200,000 with the mortgage registration fee phase out," explained County Administrator Will Johnson. "Our revenues are flat in the general fund, but where we are going to have some issues will be EMS and the county jail. We have made some minor cuts and modifications to deal with those and there are going to be some things included that we cannot control.
“In the budget, a 2.5 percent merit increase has also been included, but that is something that is just on the table that will need to be talked about and flushed out if necessary."
"We've also projected a 10 percent increase for our health insurance," said Adkison, "but that is not too far from the industry standard at this point."
"If you're projecting a salary increase of 2.5 percent in the budget, where are you going to get the money to pay for that?" asked Commissioner Peggy Palmer.
"That decision is ultimately up to the commission," said Adkison. "We know the assessed evaluation is almost one percent. Some of those are grant funded and other areas we have cut commodities and contractuals. As of right now, we're presenting a balanced budget without increases."
The first department to have their budget scrutinized was the Butler County District Court.
"We reduced the budget for the district court slightly," explained Johnson. "We also increased the utilities slightly to match the 2013 actuals and we reduced attorney fees. There's really nothing major in there."
"The district court is unique because they don't have any salaries in their budget," explained Adkison.
Next was GIS Mapping.
"I proposed a flat budget," explained GIS Director Pamela R. Dunham. "We have an increase in salaries budgeted and we also have an increase in longevity in our department which is a good thing. We have proposed a decrease in the capital, which is specified for our aerial photography. We have decreased that to $15,000 a year versus the $16,250 we had before."
"When you do your budget, you have to work with the increase in salaries," said Palmer. "How can you come out with only a slight increase?"
"We did manage to find a cut in our photography for this year," explained Dunham. "If we were asked to cut 10 percent, we would not be able to do it. Our entire budget is comprised of salaries and photography."
The Department of Community Development, which is comprised of Planning and Zoning and Economic Development, was next to be reviewed.
"This is very basic and again there are no employment changes," explained Adkison. "One salary goes up from the merit projections and the budget for animal control has gone down. It was decreased by $4,000 because they just weren't spending what they thought they would."
"As far as economic development goes, we kept the functions in a fund in the budget so that it would be easier to track them," explained Johnson. "We still have some costs associated with dues, memberships and advertising and some other functions that are paid out of their fund. We aren't spending a lot on economic development anymore, but there are still some things that we need to do."
Facilities management was the next under the microscope.
"We have only two major changes in salaries," began Director of Facilities Management Dan Ingalls. "I have two part-time employees on my staff right now and I would like to make one of them full time. A few years ago, things were going slow at the detention facility and we decided that we did not need a full-time person there in that facility. We have since fount out it was not a good move. We have since gotten way behind on maintenance and now we're falling behind throughout the county. In the winter, our part-time person does some of the painting and touch ups and in the summer, their entire 20-hour week is dedicated to mowing."
"Have you tried getting inmates to do that kind of work?" asked Commissioner Mike Wheeler.
"We did try that for a time," explained Ingalls. "We spent as much time getting paint off everything that wasn't supposed to be painted that it wasn't worth it anymore. The only inmate that can do that kind of work will be one that enjoys doing it."
County Attorney Darrin Devinney represented the county attorney's office.
"We've tried to keep things pretty flat," explained Devinney. "We abolished an office manager position and we have filled the assistant county attorney position."
“We did increase the utilities by $2,000 to better match the projected amounts," explained Adkison.
Director of the Butler County Health Department Janice Powers was the final department head to present to the commission.
"Truly, I've just shifted some of our funds around to cover areas that seemed to creep up on us," explained Powers. "We've had increases in some areas and we've moved where the salary for the grants coordinator appears. It has been under administration in the general fund, but we moved it back under the health department. That has increased our salaries line much more than the merit did. We also had a grant that was discontinued and it totaled about $1,800 a year. In order to balance that, we've added some memberships into our budget and we've decreased our areas in trainings.”
The commission will continue to discuss the 2015 budget throughout July and a final budget will be adopted in August.