Supervisors budget to 'spend down' balance

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Board of Supervisors for Buena Vista County has proposed its budget for fiscal year 2009 with revenues and other financing sources to increase by 3.5% according to the board's estimate, estimate, with an operating deficit of $1,125,844.

The County Board of Supervisors is conducting a public hearing on the proposed budget estimate today, March 11 at 11 a.m. in the 2nd floor meeting room of the Buena Vista County Courthouse. The public hearing will afford any resident or taxpayer an opportunity to present objections to or arguments in favor of any part of the proposed budget.

With the proposed operating deficit, the unreserved fund balance would be reduced by 29.94% year-over-year to $2.751 million. Chairperson Dale Arends, District II, said that it has been the choice between raising taxes or spending down the balance and the board has chosen not to raise taxes.

"We are spending down our ending fund balance," Chairperson Arends said. "For the last two years, we have been spending down the operating fund balance. If you have cash then you can spend it down, the current board is not wanting to increase taxes."

Additionally, he noted that they are trying to increase the capacities of the county courthouse, using former jail space for storage systems.

Arends noted that the Veterans Services Department is going to be at the Annex on Richland Avenue in part because of ease-of-access for handicapped individuals.

According to the budget proposal, tax revenues that are liened on countywide and rural properties will increase between the re-estimated FY 2007-2008 and FY 2008-2009 by $715,565 or 4.67% of the total proposed budget (before credits to taxpayers.)

The breakdown of proposed property taxation would include a tax rate of 7.61703 per $1,000 assessed for urban areas and 10.52595 per $1,000 for rural areas. It is noted that the increase in tax revenues is based on the increase in property valuations.

Intergovernmental revenues are expected to decrease by $202,475 or 4.07% year-over-year to $4.760 million.

Expenditures that are proposed to increase include: public safety and legal services, physical health and social services, mental health, county environment and education, roads and transportation, government services to residents, administration, and debt service.

"We have asked the department heads to tighten your budgets and not do any unnecessary spending and stop doing any capital projects when possible," Arends added. "Expenses are rising and we granted an increase in salary to employees."

In the meantime, the Board has asked department heads to take a look at revenues and make sure that we are in line with other counties while making sure that they are not "overcharging."

"Look at those fee structures; look around and see what other counties are doing, Arends said. "I want us to be current just so that we are not undercharging the public or are not overcharging the public."

Debt service is proposed to increase from $1.157 million to $1.312 million marking a 13.38% increase. Roads and transportation is the largest expenditure that the county incurs with a proposed budget of $4.018 million or a 4.04% increase.

In general basic funds that are reserved include $75,000 for drive trails and $112,500 for bike trails in association with the Awaysis Project.

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