By Greg Bird
The McCreary County Fiscal Court passed the first reading of the $8.5 million county budget Thursday night with little discussion, but with admittedly still some work to be done.
The 2019-20 budget is the first put together by Judge Executive Jimmie “Bevo” Greene and the new Fiscal Court and reflects their first opportunity to shape the County’s finances for the coming year.
In office for less than half a year, the Judge Executive said much of the new budget is based off the previous year’s, but he expects that future budgets will have more refinement as his administration asserts more control on funding and spending.
It is important to note that changes are expected to be made to the budget prior to the final vote expected next month. The entire budget must be completed and sent to Frankfort for approval prior to the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
According to the budget passed last week, revenue for the General Fund is expected to increase by about $286,000, though much of that gain comes from half a million dollars carried over from the previous year’s budget. Most of the gain comes from underestimated PILT payments from last year, providing additional funding in the new budget cycle.
Those gains are offset somewhat by the loss of about $70,000 in grant funding and $31,000 in franchise fees from the garbage service. (The $31,000 was included as expected revenue in the 2017-18 budget, but never received.)
Total General Fund revenues are estimated to be around $4.407 million, up from $4.286 million last year and comprise 51.71 percent of the overall budget.
Of the $4.407 million General Fund appropriations, about 63 percent has been designated for salaries and fringe benefits.
While similar in most aspects to previous budgets, the latest has some interesting figures, mostly in employee and personnel costs.
Judge Greene stated the new budget includes a 25-cent per hour wage increase for all county employees, accounting for much of the additional personnel costs. As an added plus for county workers, this budget includes life insurance for employees. Judge Greene stated insurance costs actually dropped this year, allowing the County to implement a $15,000 life insurance policy for the first time.
One of the most notable changes appears to be funding for an additional deputy with the Sheriff’s office.
An additional $49,000 has been added to the Office of the Sheriff line items, including an extra $32,000 in deputy salaries and the remainder in fringe benefit costs such as retirement and insurance.
Judge Greene stated Title III PILT money provided additional revenue that could only be spent in certain areas, so it was decided to add a deputy. The funding is year-to-year, so it may have to be revisited next year.
For the past several years the Fiscal Court has funded the Sheriff’s Office three deputies, and the additional funding will allow an additional paid and trained officer to the force.
Other funds expected to increase in the newest budget includes the Road Fund, which has grown by about $230,000, and the Revolving Loan Fund, that saw a $32,000 increase.
The Jail, L.G.E.A and Grant Funds see minor decreases, and only account for about six percent of the total budget for the year.
Occupational Tax and business license fees are expected to see a slight increase as an estimated $1.687 million is projected to be collected this budget year, a gain of about $68,000 over last year’s budget.