Budget Season Opens For Jefferson County Budget Committee

Budget Season has begun in Jefferson County and the Jefferson County Budget Committee held their first meeting to address the fiscal year 2019/2020 budget on Monday evening, March 25, 2019 in the Historic Jefferson County Courthouse. Ten budget committee members, along with the Jefferson County Director of Finance, are charged with presenting the full Jefferson County Commission a budget for the upcoming fiscal year and they are facing a nearly $1 million dollar hole before requests from various departments for increases.

Budget Committee Chairman Scarlett reminded committee members that Jefferson County is in a reassessment year and the tax rate will have to be equalized, meaning that it will have to be adjusted to accommodate the readjustment, but the county will not get the use of any pennies garnered through the adjustment process. Normally, the worth of a penny changes slightly from year to year and any extra funds garnered from that shift is available to use to help balance the budget. Because this is a readjustment year that benefit does not apply. The worth of a penny for the upcoming fiscal year is not yet known. The current fiscal year budget is based on a $2.35 property tax rate, which transfers to 235 pennies of property tax. Those pennies are allocated to various budgetary needs. Coming into Monday’s meeting, Capital Projects had two pennies assigned to its budget ( general worth of a penny fluctuates but is in the neighborhood of $114,000 or so). Those two pennies are combined with $179,000 garnered through litigation tax, which must be used for projects associated with the Justice Center or Courthouse, for a total Capital Projects Budget of around $435,000.

Jefferson County Facilities Director Longmire brought a list of projects for various building in the County that totaled $1,009,000. Following discussion, a motion was offered by Committee Members Dockery/Kesterson for project #2 at the Justice Center and #7 Courthouse New Blinds. Upon consent they also included #6 Courthouse Paint and #11 lights for Justice Center Parking Lot for a total of $156,500 for the four projects. All four projects can be funded from the litigation portion of the money available for capital projects with a remaining litigation portion of $22,500. This funding mechanism leaves two pennies available to be moved to cover other budget needs. The motion passed 9-0.

Chairman Scarlett informed the committee that next budget season meeting in April would deal with non profits. Director of Jefferson County Finance Langdon Potts stated that he is still awaiting full disclosure from CARE on their total revenues. Full disclosure is a mandate to receive funding from the Jefferson County Commission. Chairman Scarlett reminded the committee that funding was previously cut from one fire department due to lack of appropriate paper work and should full disclosure not be met an organization is not able to present their request to the budget committee.

Commissioner Dockery stated that his interest lies in adding an additional ambulance that would benefit response time in much of Jefferson County. He stated that the cost of the personnel ( ambulance is already in County fleet) to operate this ambulance is around $500,000 and he will be actively searching for ways to accumulate pennies toward that goal, including taking a hard look at non profit funding outside the scope of fire departments and rescue squad.

At the recommendation of the Director of Finance, the budget committee voted to wait on approval of the Debt Service Budget until additional information is made available.

Source: Kristen Depew