The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 3, 2013

Jasper County Commission reviews budget

CARTHAGE, Mo. — Jasper County officials will wait to see how year-end revenues come in before they act on a budget for the 2014 fiscal year.

Members of the County Commission, after a public hearing Tuesday, agreed to take under advisement the proposed budget put together by Richard Webster, county auditor.

Webster presented the spending plan along with warnings that revenues are not keeping up with expenditures, shrinking the amount of reserves upon which he relies to reach a balanced budget. For the most part, he said, the county’s money problems are in the general fund, which finances most of the county’s administrative functions. He also reviewed budgets for assessment, law enforcement, and the road and bridge fund.

As proposed, the general fund budget estimates expenditures for 2014 at more than $16.4 million and revenues at more than $14.9 million. That means the county will need at least $1.5 million in carry-over funds to balance the budget, and Webster said he’s not sure all the money will come in.

“Last year at the end of November, we had $739,000 in reserves; this year, it’s $203,000. That’s a significant decline,” he said.

As a result, the commissioners agreed to delay action on a final budget.

“I’d rather wait and see than approve funds for something and then have to turn around and take it away,” said John Bartosh, presiding commissioner.

The general fund budget for the 2013 fiscal year estimated expenditures at $16 million and revenues at $14 million.

Webster said the proposed budget contains no significant spending hikes from this year. The largest single increase — $230,000 — will be to fund primary and general elections next year. Cost also are up in workers’ health insurance costs. The budget includes no allocation for worker raises.

The proposal does show a $50,000 increase in salaries in the county commissioners’ budget. Darieus Adams, Western District commissioner, said the funding would pay Norman Rouse, who serves as attorney for the commission and previously was paid from the prosecuting attorney’s budget. He said Rouse would have dedicated hours in the commission office in Carthage and would be available to help other offices with legal issues.

Deadline

BY LAW, the County Commission has until Jan. 10 to adopt a final budget, said Richard Webster, county auditor.

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