Fiscal year 2012 budget presented to Boone County Commission

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 | 6:06 p.m. CST; updated 10:04 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 15, 2011

COLUMBIA — The Boone County auditor presented the proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 to the Boone County Commission today during a commission meeting. 

The total revenue for the year is projected at $45.9 million, a four percent increase from last fiscal year. This increase is due primarily to increased sales tax revenue, the county's main source of funds, county auditor June Pitchford said.

The total costs for fiscal year 2012 are estimated at $55.7 million, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. Pitchford attributed this to the costs of the 2012 election and road and bridge fund projects.

These projected numbers would result in a deficit of $9.8 million. However, the county has never had spent 100 percent of what it has predicted, Pitchford said. These expenditures are purposely overestimated to cover all potential costs.

The proposed budget keeps spending on the three main funds, the law enforcement fund, the road and bridge fund and the general fund, as they are the most important aspects of county government, Pitchford said.

In addition to spending in these three areas, the budget includes a two percent salary increase for county employees based on a merit pool, at a cost of $356,000. Wages have not increased since 2008.

The county also will focus on several road projects, including those on Rolling Hills Road, St. Charles Road and High Point Lane. These projects will receive funding from a balance in the road and bridge fund of $9.8 million.

The budget takes into account the need for new law enforcement equipment and vehicles. The county previously had only replaced those in serious need, Pitchford said, leaving many in workable but bad condition. These will be replaced in 2012. 

Pitchford described to the commission several issues that have negatively affected the county's ability to spend.

In 2008 and 2009, sales taxes dropped off greatly; the county ran negative sales tax income. Reserve funds were used in those years to cover spending costs that the sales tax could not.

Pitchford told the commissioners that taxes have rebounded since then, but the popularity of internet purchases and the county's lack of ability to tax them continues to hurt funds.

In addition to the sales tax problem, the county has lost $370,000 in state funding over the past decade. These cuts came out of the money provided to the county for holding state inmates and a daily amount of money provided for the juvenile detention center.

The budget does not include anything about the Boone County Fairgrounds, which Pitchford said the commission will need to undertake before making any final budgetary decisions.

The commission has until Jan. 10 to pass the final budget. It must hold at least one work session before then.

Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin added a budget hearing to the beginning of every regular commission meeting agenda until its passage before thanking Pitchford and her office for their work.

"(Ours is) probably the best budget process in the state," he said.

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