$4 million county budget approved
The Ozark County Commission approved the 2019-2020 budget at last week’s meeting. The total county budget is around $4 million.
The commissioners were pleased to be able to give all hourly county employees (part and full time) a 25-cent per hour raise, bringing the lowest paid employees to $8.75 per hour. The raise came in response to the voter-approved Proposition B, approved by Missouri voters on Nov. 6 2018, which raises the 2019 minimum wage to $8.60 / hour for private employers.
According to the Missouri Department of Labor, the minimum wage will increase 85 cents per hour each year through 2023. The law does not apply to public employers, but Western District Commissioner Greg Donley said, “If we can at all, we’ve got to work toward [keeping up with the voter-approved minimum wage increase] because if we don’t pay minimum wage, we’re going to be losing employees.”
The commissioners said they have had the same salary for the last 10 years, and that will not go up unless the county’s assessed valuation goes up.
The estimated ending balance for the 2019 general revenue fund is $75.86. “We made it by the hair of our chinny-chin-chin,” said Presiding Com-missioner John Turner.
Donley said that everyone in the courthouse has done a great job of managing their money to stay within the budget, and he gave special kudos to Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed for always managing to have money left over at the end of the year. “Darrin Reed has been exceptional to work with,” said Donley. “If he would have spent all we budgeted, we would be short.” “Badly,” added Gary Collins.
Turner expressed concern about funding cuts that have been made in the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services that have been passed along to local meal programs such as the weekday lunches served at The Center as well as the home-delivered meal program. He said he had made calls to Sen. Mike Cunningham and Rep. Karla Eslinger to discuss the problem, adding, “For a lot of people it’s the only good meal they get. That’s the last place they should cut back.” Turner said Cunningham indicated that cuts were due to the minimum wage increase, which caused other funds to be diverted to meet increased compensation costs.
In response to a story in the Jan. 30 edition of the Times that said as the county finalized its budget for the next fiscal year it looked like it would be starting “in the hole,” Donley said, “We are not starting in the hole. We have a better-than-expected balance to begin the year with. I guess the ‘in the hole’ comment comes from the yearly budget requests that we get from other officials in the county. Each year county officials have requests for additional funding due to the increased cost of doing business. That, in turn, puts us in the hole when we’re trying to meet the requests. It’s this way every year because our income doesn’t always increase enough to meet the new requests. All the county officials I have worked with are always more than willing to make the budget work. I am sure we will get through this year to come.”
In response to the Times’ request, Ozark County County Clerk Brian Wise provided these highlights from the county’s 2019 budget. For comparison, the 2018 figures are shown in parentheses. Note that last year’s budget highlights didn’t include the assessor’s budget, so the 2018 figures were not immediately available at press time Tuesday.
Starting balance - $111,997.20 ($124,439.81)
Estimated revenues - $1,256,375 ($1,214,095.00)
Estimated expenditures - $1,368,296.34 ($1,338,101.67)
Starting balance: $42,420.06
Estimated revenues: $161,208
Estimated expenditures: $164,371
Starting balance - $149.54 ($3.67)
Estimated revenues - $759,650.71 ($732,751.62)
Estimated expenditures - $758,968.41 (732, 755.29)
Roads and Bridges West:
Starting balance - $277,693.95 ($20,664.88)
Estimated revenues - $1,018,300 ($1,528,089.50)
Estimated expenditures - $1,273,497 ($1,480,687.00)
Roads and Bridges East:
Starting balance - $439,873.83 ($125,465.80)
Estimated revenues - $918,300 ($1,326,830.00)
Estimated expenditures - $1,223,982.95 ($1,304,332.96)