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County finds nearly $600K in budget
Pictured is Budget and Finance Committee chair Terry Bell.

Warren County commissioners went back to the drawing board to balance the budget for fiscal year 2016-17 after a proposed property tax increase was rejected last week.
“I guess we’ll talk about the general fund and start over with the budget because our tax increase did not pass the other night,” said Budget and Finance Committee chair Terry Bell.
Bell informed committee members Carl E. Bouldin, Ken Martin and Michael Martin that he sat down with Finance Department director Linda Hillis to review the budget, specifically projected revenue within the proposed budget.
“I went to Linda the next day after we had our meeting and had her take a look at some of the revenues that we had down on our revenue side. We start the budget process so early, she has to do a lot of guessing on what our revenue will actually be. She looked at them and she’s contemplating raising some of these.”
Hillis added, “There were a few that came in over budget this year.”
Among the list with a higher projected revenue stream are business tax, telephone commissions, commissary sales at Warren County Jail, Clerk and Master, prisoner boarding, tax credit bond rebate and the county’s contributions.
When those ending numbers for 2015-16 were figured into next year’s revenue projects, the ending fund balance increase from $558,800 to $1.12 million. The state recommends the county retain $1.25 million to cover one month’s expenses.
Ken Martin, who proposed a 10-cent property tax increase to improve the county’s financial bottom line when the fund balance was projected to be $558,800, expressed content with the new numbers.
“Our fund balance is quite a bit more than we thought it was going to be,” he said. “Obviously, I’m thrilled it’s more than we thought it was going to be. It’s a lot more. There are a couple of changes I voted for that I wouldn’t want to vote for now since we’ve got a fund balance like this.”
Other items within the proposed budget were reviewed and changed.
Bell suggested they reduce the number of new jailers from six to four and add those funds to 1 cent of debt service (approximately $65,000) – removing the need to borrow $140,000 for the Sheriff’s Department new vehicles.
“I’ll tell you something I would like to revisit and that’s additional jailers,” Bell said. “We’ve got six in the budget but they have four shifts. I would like to put an additional guard on each shift and see how that works. We have six built into the budget and this would reduce it to four. We could take that additional money, remove one more penny out of debt service and buy the cars straight out. We wouldn’t have to do a capital outlay note.”
Currently within the budget is removing 6 cents from debt service, approximately $391,000, to pay architectural services for the $7.5 million Warren County Jail expansion project.
“Removing money from debt service makes me nervous,” said Ken Martin.
Bouldin voiced a displeasure toward borrowing money.
“I don’t like borrowing money,” he said. “That’s just money that has to be paid back. It’s paid back with interest. I don’t like it. We owe about $22 or $23 million right now. We’re going to have to borrow at least $7.5 million for the jail expansion.”
The committee unanimously approved 4-0 to reduce the number of new jailers from six to four, remove 1 cent from debt service and purchase the vehicles without a capital outlay note.
During one of the first reviews of the proposed budget, several singular raises were given to specific county employees and all remaining employees would be given 50 cents more an hour. Among those singular raises was a $2,000 annual salary increase for Hillis, who requested of the committee to remove that and provide her with the same salary given to the other employees – 50 cents.
“I think we should make them all the same,” said Bell. “I think we need to do that in order to be fair.”
Michael Martin motioned to give every employee a 50-cent salary increase, removing all singular raises. His motion passed unanimously.
The consolidated budget will be reconfigured with the changes made and sent to the Financial Management Committee for its consideration.