Budget commission declines to bump revenue projection

Published 9:24 am Friday, March 15, 2013

On Thursday the county’s budget commission declined to certify additional interest to the general fund revenue despite an earlier request by County Treasurer Stephen Burcham.

At a February Lawrence County Commission meeting Burcham reported $100,000 in interest on certificates of deposit that had not been certified. He asked that $50,000 be placed in the general fund classification that covers the budgets for the county auditor, treasurer and recorder.

The budget commission, made up of the county auditor, county treasurer and prosecuting attorney, determines the amount of revenue coming into the county each year.

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“When we certify, we tell the county commission officially how much money we think they have to spend,” Chris Kline, deputy auditor, said.

After the budget meeting County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson said he wanted to see how the revenue continues to come into the county before acting.

“There is still money unappropriated and there is no dire need to certify any more money,” Anderson said.

Right now there is $194,240 in certified revenue in the three general fund classifications that is unappropriated. That breaks down to $98,406 in the fund for the auditor, treasurer and recorder; $58,751 in the one-half percent sales tax fund for the sheriff, emergency medical services and emergency management agency; and $37,083 in the general fund.

As of Jan. 2 interest revenue for 2013 had been estimated at $434,133.

“That comes from over the years when interest rates were quite higher,” Anderson said. “We have certified $270,000 of that. The projected interest income for 2014 is $102,571. That is a substantial decrease in interest income.”

The majority of revenue for the county comes from sales tax, property tax, the local government fund, interest on investments, casino revenue and fees. The anticipated amount in all of those, except the interest income, is determined by the auditor’s office. The county treasurer is in charge of investments.

Kline estimates the amount of annual revenue from spreadsheets he keeps over past years to determine patterns. The budget commission only tells the commissioners the estimated amount of revenue each year. The commissioners decide where to distribute the money.

“We don’t tell them, say, how much to give the sheriff,” Kline said.

The auditor’s office first tells the commissioners the revenue estimate in October to give them the earliest information for them to begin drawing up the next year’s budget.

“But we have to wait to close out to find out what the actual carryover is,” Kline said. “Until the bills and payroll get paid, we won’t know the actual carryover until the first of the year.”

At its quarterly meeting on Thursday the county’s budget commission did certify an additional $120,000 for the 911 fund to reflect money that will be transferred from the wireless 911 fund from the state.

A 25-cent a month surcharge is levied on everyone in the county who has a cell phone to fund the 911 service. Right now there is $168,000 certified in the wireless fund. But that was reduced by $20,000 because the estimate the county received from the state at the end of December was higher by that amount than what will be coming in.

As far as certifying additional interest income Anderson said, “I am not against doing it. I want to wait to see what other funds come in like the casino revenue. That is not to say we won’t certify over the year. I want to wait to see what the casino funds and local government funds are.”