CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Jasper County is getting an early start preparing the budget for the 2014 fiscal year.
Richard Webster, county auditor, said Friday he already has sent budget request forms to county officials and department heads, who are to complete and return them by Sept. 10.
“It’s two or three weeks earlier than I have in the last few years because I wanted to give them time to complete it and get it back to me, so I’ll have the time I need to get a viable document to the (Jasper County) Commission by Nov. 15.”
That date is the statutory deadline. The fiscal year begins Jan. 1.
Webster said the budget process “has dragged out in the last couple years and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
The auditor, who is the chief budget officer for the county, also said he will ask commissioners to convene at least one budget meeting for elected officials so they can ask questions and make comments about plans for county spending. State law also requires at least one public hearing on the budget before commissioners take action on it.
Webster said he has told elected officials and department heads to calculate no pay increases for their workers and that requests for additional staff can be made but may not be approved.
County workers went about five years without an across-the-board pay hike before commissioners approved a 2 percent increase that went into effect for employees in September 2012 and elected officials the following January.
The auditor is responsible for estimating the amount of money the county will have to work with for the year, but Webster said he is not ready to make revenue forecasts. The county’s primary revenue sources are sales taxes that fund general operations, some law enforcement costs and road and bridge work. Last year, the county’s general revenue sales tax produced $6.2 million.
“Right now, sales tax collections are down 5.7 percent compared to a year ago. It’s also too early to know what to expect from property taxes,” he said. “We do know election costs will be up by at least $200,000 because the county will have to pay for a primary and general election next year.”
THE 2013 JASPER COUNTY BUDGET estimated expenditures of $15.9 million for the general fund, which finances most county operations. General fund spending was $15.7 million for the previous year.