The Barry County Commission’s committee of the whole spent the morning Tuesday talking about budget matters; first an overview of the proposed 2019 budget, then appeals from departments whose requests for increases were denied.
County Administrator Michael Brown said the focus, “was on budgeting revenues at realistic levels, not underestimating them, but also not falling trap to overestimating them, to avoid having to make financial choices about reducing services, if required. The recommended budget shows both general fund revenues and expenditures are expected to be $17,101,947; the entire budget totals $48 million.
The proposed budget has figures from 2016 forward with projections for 2020 and 2021.
Several commissioners said they appreciate Brown’s expertise in budgeting, with Commissioner Dan Parker urging Brown to, “stay in the conservative window that makes economic sense for the county,” Commissioner David Jackson agreed they “should maintain a conservative focus as we go forward. The budget reflects clear thinking.”
The appeals included a Parks & Recreation Board request for $3,510 to move its administrator from .2526 time to .375 time. It was approved.
“We have some dedicated people here…it’s use it or lose it…we should think about what it could cost if we don’t do it,” Parker said.
No action was taken on a request by the Barry County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Matt Houchlei for an additional sworn deputy to work in court security at a total cost of $70,389.80 a year. Current staff is inadequate to cover the increased hearings in all four courts, leading to overtime or call-ins every morning, and constant shifting of staff.
Tthere was also no action on the request from Register of Deeds Barb Hurless, for two part-time indexers for three to four months to manually remove inoperative, unneeded numbers in their archives caused by several months of computer malfunctions. She also asked for another full time abstractor to help with the work load and provide coverage during vacation, sick time or other absences of the one abstractor in the office.
The computer situation is complicated and so difficult to understand that the commissioners need more information before making a decision. Both Houchlei and Hurless’ requests will likely be discussed at the next board meeting.
Also to wait for more information are a request from Commissioner Vivian Conner for an increase of $1,000 for maintenance of a vehicle to be used on a three-county invasive species eradication program by the Barry Conservation District, and Commissioner Heather Wing’s request for funding for an administrator for the Agriculture Preservation Board.