2015-07-02 / Front Page

County uses fund balance to cover projected deficit

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners passed a resolu­tion to amend the FY 2015 Budget, which currently shows an estimated shortfall of $241,000.

The action was taken at a called meeting of the commissioners held Tuesday, June 23.

The $241,000 deficit will be offset by monies from the fund balance, leaving $1,625,000 in the contin­gency fund.

Initial budget projections showed a shortfall of $55,000.

In his remarks, Wade Johnson, commission chairman, said, “If we keep drawing from the fund balance, we need to remember that we can only go to the well so many times before it gets dry.”

According to Traci Bussey, fi­nance director for the county, “By law, we have to be within our bud­get. I’m basing the projected deficit on history and what people tell me we have coming in – I hope the ac­tual shortfall is way under $241,000. Just because we’re budgeting for this doesn’t mean we will spend it.

“The shortfall is really the result of a lot of different factors – it’s not like there’s one big thing.”

Bussey is forecasting deficits created by expenditures for the fol­lowing departments: l Office of Emergency Services (OES) – $15,000.

“They have had to make a lot of repairs to ambulances,” she said. l 911 Center – $30,000.

“The majority of the $30,000 is due to the overtime dispatchers have had to put in, because at some points during the year, the center was understaffed,” noted the finance director. l Sheriff’s Office – $78,000.

The majority of the shortfall in this department is due to salaries. l Jail – $15,000.

On the revenue side, the jail fund is $150,000 short because of a drop in inmate housing.

“We are at the mercy of the federal marshals when it comes to housing,” said Bussey. “It’s not a service issue.”

During an earlier meeting of the commission, Sheriff Bruce Beggs explained that the marshals have slowed down on arrests.

The commissioners then dis­cussed the feasibility of keeping the jail open.

Chairman Johnson told the group he will do the research, but this is a decision it will have to make.

In other business, the board ap­proved the FY 2016 Temporary Gen­eral Fund Budget of $6,718,103.36, which includes $40,000 to cover the cost of a three-year update and reappraisal of all real property in the county.

GMASS (Georgia Mass Apprais­als Solutions and Services, Inc.) will revalue a third of the parcels each year at a cost of $40,000 for both 2016 and 2017 and $75,000 for 2018.

Containing no capital projects, the budget is as follows: Board of Com­missioners, $145,993.58; Election Office, $83,375.17; General Admin­istration, $1,152,453.75; Employer Liability, $581,200.

Finance Department, $110,888.03; County Attorney, $40,624; Tax Commissioner, $177,318.68; Tax Assessor, $185,097.83; Information Technology, $54,812.72; Clerk of Superior Court, $168,931.87.

Board of Equalization, $7,300; Cost Share, $57,901; Cost Share – Judicial, $44,350; Probate Court, $159,896.61; Sheriff’s Office, $649,934.88; Jail, $615,185.05.

Communications, $213,725.25; VFD, $9,746.32; Office of Emer­gency Services, $781,620.31; Coro­ner, $11,746.56; Road Depart­ment, $684,229.85; County Shop, $91,782.52; Senior Citizens Pro­gram, $78,257.34.

Lincoln Center, $16,168.30; Tran­sit Department, $80,976.11; Rec­reation Department, $124,811.37; Library – Local, $93,695.90; Li­brary – State, $52,748.13.

County Extension Program, $46,023.73; Planning and Zoning, $48,707.43; Code Enforcement, $49,789.43; and Development Au­thority, $98,811.63.

According to Bussey, “The bud­get, which is close to what we had last year, calls for us to take $113,000 out of the fund balance. However, we will have to revisit it once the digest arrives.”

“The numbers are not going to work unless something is done with spending,” stated Chairman John­son, who emphasized that the budget is temporary. “Once we get the tax digest, we will have to discuss what we’re going to do – there’s a good chance departmental budgets will have to be cut.”

The county is expecting the digest to be completed at the end of this month.

In conclusion, the chairman said the county will send out a letter ask­ing department heads to be careful with their spending.

In further business, the commis­sion: l Voted to approve the FY 2016 Miscellaneous Fund Budget, which totaled $4,688.036.

The budget appears below: Campgrounds and Parks, $61,800; Drug Education, $4,506; E-911, $145,000; Workforce Investment, $1,665,000; Family Connection, $175,000; Hotel-Motel, $20,971; Jail Fee, $8,000; Law Library, $3,400; Recreation Authority, $2; SPLOST (Special Purpose Lo­cal Option Sales Tax), $636,000; Solid Waste, $647,878; T-SPLOST (Transportation), $515,300; and Water Fund, $805,179. l Voted to approve the Lincoln County Library’s operations agree­ment with the Greater Clark’s Hill Regional Library System. l Voted to purchase a used com­mercial dishwasher for the Lincoln County Law Enforcement Center from B and J Appliances and Signs at a cost of $2,000 plus installa­tion.

A new one would run from $10,000 to $12,000.

It was noted that the water in the current dishwasher is not getting hot enough to properly sanitize dishes and kitchen equipment, and the jail was given 30 days to comply with state regulations.

The money for the dishwasher will come out of the jail fee fund.

The next regular meeting of the board of commissioner will be held Thursday, July 9, at 6 p.m. in the courtroom on the second floor of the courthouse.

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