Ozark County Commissioners pass the 2020 county budget without a hitch
Ozark County has passed its annual budget for the year 2020, and by all accounts the process went quite smoothly.
“This is the easiest budget we’ve passed in the 12 years I’ve been here,” said Western Commissioner Greg Donley.
At close to $5 million, it’s probably the largest in the county’s history, according to Ozark County Clerk Brian Wise, who also commented on how easily the budget came together.
“We didn’t cut anybody’s budget this year,” said Wise. “Office holders are exceptionally good at knowing where we stand.”
Reimbursements from FEMA, which are still coming in as road and bridge repairs from the April 2017 flood are completed and approved, and income from the Ozark County Sheriff’s prisoner boarding contract with Greene County gave this year’s budget a significant boost.
Wise says FEMA payments are “on the downhill run,” but they still account for a considerable chunk of income.
The road and bridge east and west departments each projected $250,000 of payments from FEMA for repairs this year. They each received around $400,000 in 2019.
Prisoner exchange contract
While FEMA funds are reimbursement for money already spent by the county, revenues from prisoner board are a different story.
The county’s contract to board overflow prisoners from Greene County, which Sheriff Darrin Reed described as a “no-lose situation for the sheriff’s department,” has been quite lucrative, bringing in more than $133,000 in 2019.
Revenue from prisoner boarding is estimated at $197,000 this year, compared with only $33,565 in 2018, before the program started. (See “New prisoner contract is ‘no-lose situation’ in the April 24, 2019, edition of the Times for more information.)
Thanks to the extra income, the sheriff’s department was able to set aside $20,000 for repairs, maintenance and upkeep of the county jail.
On the other end of the spectrum, a major decrease in revenue is projected for the Ozark County Recycling Center this year.
With the low price of recyclables, the recycling center has struggled to make ends meet. (See Times article “Ozark County Recycling Center is in trouble as recyclables’ prices fall,” Oct. 9, 2019.)
In 2018, income from the sale of recyclable materials collected by the center and the $2 per bag trash disposal fee were over $30,000. In 2019, revenue plummeted to less than $9,000, and only $10,000 of income is expected this year.
While grants do help pad the recycling center’s budget, the county will have to subsidize the center heavily this year, commissioners said.
Court costs for Ozark County murder trials account for another large expenditure, those related to the 2017 murder of 16-year-old Savannah Leckie in the Theodosia and the 2018 murder of 73-year-old Thornfield resident Lawrence Brostedt.
While the county’s budget consists of 46 separate funds, it’s the general revenue, assessor’s office, law enforcement and county’s road and bridge departments that make up the bulk of the budget.
The general revenue fund had a starting balance on Jan. 1, of $123,807.54. Revenues are estimated to reach $1,295,778, and estimated expenditures are $1,412,495.56.
The assessor’s starting balance was $22,103.50, with estimated revenues of $164,836.54 and estimated expenditures of $166,371.
The law enforcement fund started the year with $43,333.59. Revenues are estimated at $917,471.08, with $960,796.10 in expenditures.
The starting balance for the road and bridge west department was $28,670.92. Estimated revenues are $1,371,700, and expenditures are projected to be $1,399,345.
Road and bridge east started the year with $319,781.68, with estimated revenues of $957,650, and estimated expenditures totaling $1,234,100.