The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 18, 2013

Newton County panel holds line on expenditures in 2013 budget

By Roger McKinney

NEOSHO, Mo. — Newton County commissioners on Thursday approved a $17.6 million county budget for 2013.

The budget includes a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in pay for county employees.

Total appropriations in the 2013 budget are $152,521 less than the nearly $17.8 million in the budget approved for 2012.

General revenue fund appropriations in the 2013 budget, which funds most county services, total $9.4 million. That’s an increase from $9.1 million approved in 2012.

“The budget anticipates revenue of $8,164,890.83 for the 2013 budget year,” reads the budget statement signed by the three commissioners. “This amount, together with a carryover of $1,698,553.26, will give general revenue $9,863,444.09 total funds for the 2013 budget year.”

The general fund receives revenues from a sales tax of seven-eighths of a cent, fees generated by county offices and state reimbursements. There are no property taxes involved.

“Sales tax revenue was up for the first few months but recently has taken an anticipated downturn as tornado-related activity slows,” reads the budget statement, referring to recovery efforts related to the May 2011 tornado in Joplin. “However, our annual sales tax revenue will allow us to remain on budget while still maintaining future projects.”

Among other county funds, the special road and bridge fund includes appropriations of $2.8 million and the 2012 road sales tax fund includes appropriations of nearly $1.9 million.

Voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax for roads in November 2011 and the county received its first proceeds from the tax in June 2012.

“Each road district had projects ready to go as the funds became available: Norway Road in the Neosho Special Road District; and Panda and Mallard roads in the Diamond Special Road District,” reads the budget statement. “The County Common Road District was able to catch up on a number of projects that had been put on hold due to lack of funding.”

Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman said by phone Friday that when spring arrives, residents might expect a ramp-up of work on county roads.

Three new bridges and bridge maintenance also were included in the projects.

Money for an updated courthouse security system also is in the budget.

The county match for employee retirement plans remains suspended, as it has been since 2011. Ruestman said the reinstatement of the county match also was a result of declining sales tax revenues.

Fiscal year

Newton County’s fiscal year is the calendar year.