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Phil Perry/Coal Valley News - Boone County Commission President Eddie Hendricks.

BOONE COUNTY - The Boone County Commission voted unanimously to accept the 2019-20 budget on Tuesday, which will go into effect on July 1.

The new budget will stand at $7.2 million, which replaces the $8.5 million budget from a year ago.

Each county department/office was asked to cut its budget by 8 percent, and outside agencies doing business with the county are to take an 18 percent cut.

Commissioner Brett Kuhn, who took office in January, said the maneuver was ultimately necessary.

"This has been an agonizing process," Kuhn said. "We tried to look at every possible scenario and it just wasn't there. When you are talking about cutting that much money out of the budget, there isn't much else you can do."

Kuhn expressed that an even deeper look at each department will be done and that budget revisions will likely happen as a result of that.

"There are no sacred cows here," he said. "We'll be looking at the budget with a fine-tooth comb."

Commission President Eddie Hendricks cited a $1 million decline in tax revenue as a key reason for the cuts.

The Coal Valley News previously reported on budgetary problems within the Parks and Recreation Department. Additionally, through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the CVN has discovered substantial losses for the county in the Recycling Department.

For multiple years, the financial numbers for this department were combined with Solid Waste. With the closing of the county transfer stations in late 2015, recycling has stood independently.

The partially grant-funded department, which carries two full-time employees - one of which is the brother of a recently retired Boone County Commissioner, has lost between $78,000 and $86,000 annually between fiscal years 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Total wages, including insurance and retirement along with utilities and supplies totaled $104,312.68 for two employees in 2017-18. Fuel, tires and related expenditures totaled $8,211.31. With a total revenue of $25,537.91, this alone shows a $86,986.08 loss.

Comparatively, in 2016 the department showed only $15,521.79 in revenue - which covers less than half of one employee's salary. Revenue for 2017 was even less with the department showing a revenue for the entire year of $11,048.67.

The two-year grants provided $66,592.98 in funding in 2017-18, leaving the county to pick up the tab for the remaining losses in those years. The grants are calendar in nature, not fiscal, so they run January through December of each calendar year.

Boone County Commissioner Craig Bratcher, in an effort to save county money, has publicly promoted the concept of purchasing a vacuum truck for between $93,000 to $95,000 via grant money that would intake trash from ditch lines around the county and bring it to a small sorting facility, which would be built by the county maintenance department. Bratcher has expressed that he feels it could save money in comparison to our current recycling procedures. He has not brought the idea to his fellow commissioners for a vote. Bratcher is still researching the idea, associated costs and what labor would be involved in operating the vehicle. While options can vary, it would include a high pressure water system and is made by Elastec of Illinois.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.

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