In the fiscal year wrap-up this week the county commissioners learned that higher spending and lower revenues had cost the county $1.6 million in surplus funds that had been set aside as a reserve.
County CFO Kim McGlothlin told the commissioners Thursday they still had a fund balance sufficient to operate the county for a little more than three months, but, “not as much as we thought we would have.”
Dropping sales tax revenue is a major cause for the county’s revenue shortfall, she said, while some audit figures were what she described as housekeeping matters.
As an example of housekeeping, McGlothlin said that the road department had leased several vehicles. The vehicles will last several years, and the lease payments are spread over several years.
For accounting purposes, the entire amount to be paid is charged against one year’s budget, causing the road department to appear to have a big negative balance.
Later in the meeting, commissioners agreed to fund most of the cost of a school resource officer for Midway Middle School, the kind of unplanned expense that makes the country’s bottom line look worse.
Commissioners said they would fund the deputy necessary for safety in the school, but next year would again ask Midway and the school board to pay a larger share. The BoE will now pay $25,000, less than half the cost of an SRO.
Also on the gloomy financial front, County Administrator Joey Brown told the commissioners of several measures designed to save the county money.
All county departments have been told to plan for a three to five percent cut in their budgets should that become necessary. Training and travel for county employees has been suspended unless absolutely necessary, he said.
Capital expenditures have frozen and officials are paying special attention to fuel costs.
County officials have also prepared a measure that would authorize Commission Chairman John McIver and Brown to obtain a line of credit of up to $1 million in the event of a financial crisis.