Budget commission adds to coffers

Published 1:42 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The county’s general fund is almost $300,000 richer following action by the budget commission. But the question of the $500,000 that two of the three members say was certified for use by the county commissioners remains in limbo.

The county commission had earmarked that money for moving the county jail to ORV in Franklin Furnace. Now a second commissioner says without that money, there won’t be a move.

Recently, commissioner Bill Pratt said the jail move wouldn’t happen unless the state provided funding.

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At its Tuesday meeting the budget commission certified to the county’s general fund $17,580 from a workers’ comp refund; $20,000 from surplus funds from clerk of courts Mike Patterson given to the county; and the $250,000 from LM Associates following a change in the deed for the Sherman Thompson Towers.

Commission president Les Boggs said he expects most of the quarter-million-dollar check will go to bail out deficits in officeholders’ accounts.

One of the largest is the sheriff’s office that is projected to be in the red by approximately $140,000, including jail maintenance and paying out of county housing for inmates.

“We are going to take care of the sheriff’s department, as far as I am concerned,” commissioner Freddie Hayes Jr., said. “The other officeholders we can take care of with what we have left.”

Last week a purchase order for approximately $20,000 for supplies for the jail move was rejected by the county auditor’s office. The PO had been made at the request of Boggs to determine if the disputed $500,000 was there. In December the budget commission in a 2-1 vote moved half a million from the 2015 carryover. The county commissioners earmarked that for the jail move. County auditor Jason Stephens, however, has repeatedly said certifying that $500,000 was not a valid vote and that the money is not there.

“We sent a request and (the auditor) says it is not there,” Hayes said. “Evidently it’s not there. If it is not there, we are not going to be able to do (the move). I am 100 percent in support of it, but if there is nothing to pay it with we are not going to be able to make a move.”

Other officeholders with projected shortfalls include courthouse maintenance and operations at $48,482; prosecutor’s office at $40,597; county court at $18,941; juvenile court at $11,965 and the commissioners at $7,566.

The prosecutor’s office and the courts can court-order their budgets, requiring all deficits to be covered.