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Budget committee ponders airport request
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Warren County Memorial Airport and the Industrial Development Board have some explaining to do in regard to their requests for funding in the county’s 2015-16 fiscal year proposed budget.
According to Commissioner Terry Bell during Tuesday’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting, the airport has requested an additional $344,000 from the county, from $317,000 to $661,000, with the bulk of the increase going to a $250,000 match for a $2.25 million federal grant received for its runway expansion project.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen this year,” said Bell. “They have to close the road. I just don’t see this happening in this fiscal year. It’s a long way away from that. If I figured this right, we used to put in $317,000, but now it’s $661,000. If you approve it as it is, that’s a $344,000 increase.”
Also included in the airport’s budget is $50,000 for building a maintenance shed to house some airport equipment.
Finance Director Linda Hillis questioned if the money to pay for the shed would be coming from money being held in a capital projects fund.
Bell replied, “I don’t know. I would like to know. Are we paying for the shed or is it out of that fund.”
Committee members agreed to ask airport manager Richard Crawford to attend the next Budget and Finance Committee meeting to answer the question. The request for funding was tabled until that meeting.
IDB director Don Alexander requested $250,000 from the county for the upcoming fiscal year. The amount is unchanged from last year.
However, according to Commissioner Michael Martin, when the IDB asked for $2.4 million to construct a spec building, the organization was supposed to be self-sufficient after that. 
“When we gave them $2.4 million to build a spec building, somewhere in the resolution if I’m not mistaken, was a statement that they would be self-sufficient. They shouldn’t have come back to the county to ask for any more money. They should be collecting enough money off rent and stuff.”
The budget submitted by IDB in its request stated the organization would end the 2015-16 fiscal year with a net amount of $1,351. However, under “interest income” the organization listed $120,000 in revenue, which increased from $90,000 the year before.
Bell questioned of Commissioner Ken Martin how much money someone has to have in the bank in order generate $120,000 in interest in one year.
“Ken, how much money do you have to have in the bank to come up with $120,000 in interest these days?”
Ken Martin replied, “A bunch.”
Michael Martin suggested they also ask Alexander to attend the next meeting.
“Maybe we need to have him come in and explain it to us,” said Michael Martin. “If they are getting $120,000, they got to have some money somewhere that they ain’t showing. They got money that they ain’t showing, like they always do. They don’t want to show the real figures on how much money they have on hand.”
Committee members agreed to have Alexander attend the next Budget and Finance Committee meeting to answer the questions. The request for funding was tabled until that meeting.
Also considered were requests from Emergency Communications District for $145,000, which is unchanged from last year, and Warren County Rescue Squad for $33,973, which did reflect an increase from last year.
According to Rescue Squad chief Chad Hillis, the amount has an additional $9,625 to fund the purchase of 25 Motorola Minitor VI Pagers at $385 each.
“It will be a one-time expense,” said Hillis.
Both requests were unanimously approved.
When it comes to departmental budgets under consideration, the committee unanimously approved the budgets for the county’s Sheriff’s Department, Drug Control Fund, Animal Control, and Sanitation. Any salary increase requests were removed from the budgets prior to being accepted, because the county does across-the-board raises for its employees. 
On the committee with Bell, Ken Martin and Michael Martin are Commissioners Carl E. Bouldin and Diane Starkey.
The proposed departmental budgets and requests for funding approved during the meeting will now move onto the next stage in the review process.