Remainder will rollover
The projected budget shortfall of the McCreary County Fiscal Court is still apparently a reality, but the revenue from an additional half percent on the Occupational Tax may have been enough to prevent a takeover of the Court’s finances from the State.
During the citizen participation portion of Thursday’s regular meeting of the Fiscal Court Judge Executive Doug Stephens was asked to provide an update on the County’s budget situation, specifically referring to the projected shortfall -which necessitated the passage of the increased Occupational Tax earlier this year.
“The bottom line is we are not going to be able to pay all of the bills tonight,” Judge Stephens said.
The inclusion of approximately $121,000 in additional revenue from the increased Occupational Tax receipts, as reported by County Treasurer Mark Sewell, along with budget adjustments in unused line items should be enough to pay mandated expenses, such as salaries, bond payments and prisoner housing before the June 30 end of the fiscal year, but other bills will most likely have to be carried over into the next fiscal year, the Judge stated.
“We will pay what we can as money comes in,” Stephens said. “I do not think we will have enough to pay all of the bills, but we should have enough to pay the mandated expenses.”
Magistrate Roger Phillips noted the Fiscal Court started the current budget year under similar circumstances, with debt carried over from the previous year as well.
Judge Stephens noted the State does not look kindly on carrying over debt, but as long as the mandatory expenses are accounted for, there should be no penalty for the County.
Stephens also said the 2017 PILT payment has yet to be received, which would be used to repay the $200,000 loan from the Road Fund at the beginning of the year to cover insurance payments. He noted the funding typically comes in at the middle of June, which would allow that debt to be settled.
An exact idea of the final budget outlook is not expected until a special session (tentatively scheduled for June 26) is called to finalize the 2017-18 budget.
In other Fiscal Court actions Thursday:
The Court approved resolutions supporting two initiatives from the McCreary County Sheriff’s Department, which could lead to new equipment and personnel for law enforcement.
Emergency Management Director Stephen McKinney informed the Court that Sheriff Randy Waters is seeking a grant through the Cruiser Purchase Project to seek funding for the purchase of a new police cruiser.
The grant, through the USDA, would provide 75 percent of funding for a fully equipped 2017 Dodge Charger for the department.
McKinney said the Sheriff’s Department would be responsible for covering the local match of 25 percent, and would not impact the General Fund.
The second resolution supported the seeking of a Department of Justice Cops Hiring Program grant.
If successful, the grant would fund 75 percent of the salaries and benefits of three full time deputies for the department for three years.
Again, McKinney noted, the Sheriff would be responsible for the remainder of the funding.
While the funding is only for three years, a stipulation in the program calls for the Deputies to be hired for four years in total, potentially leaving the Sheriff’s Department responsible for funding the full salaries for the final year.
McKinney stated the goal was to re-apply for the funding at the end of the grant cycle, but the Sheriff acknowledged the potential expense and still was comfortable seeking the grant.
The Fiscal Court opened several bids for goods and services for various items such as fuel, culverts and fuel. In many cases only one bid was received and the Court approved accepting those proposals.
In two items, rock and fuel, the Court voted to accept both bids, as prices can change and accepting both bids allows for the Road Department to get the best pricing available at the time of order.
Two bids were received for the self loading system for the McCreary County Ambulance Service, to be paid through the receipt of a grant.
While one bid was about $2,000 cheaper, the Court voted to approve the bid from Striker at the request of EMS Director Jimmy Barnett.
Barnett noted the Ambulance Service already uses Striker products for their stretchers, and if the lower bid was accepted, the service would incur additional costs to change the equipment to fit the new loaders.
The close of the meeting included a lengthy debate over the possible sale of some land owned by the County near the sewage plant in Stearns. Some of the land includes an old landfill site, and would be restricted use only and it is doubtful the County can release the land.
Other parcels, however, may be able to be sold to private parties, possibly adding land back in to the tax rolls.
During the administration of Blaine Phillips a portion of the land was designated as a County-owned cemetery, with the idea of providing low-cost burial plots- but it was never utilized for that purpose.
The Court decided to try and determine what portions of the land are suitable for sale before taking further actions.
The next meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be a special called meeting, tentatively scheduled for June 26, to approve the 2017-18 budget.
The next regular session of the Court will be on Thursday, July 13 at 6:00 p.m.