by Valerie Verkamp
Despite the auditor's recommendation for a three percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for county employees, the Platte County Commission has decided against any salary increase for employees.
This is the fifth consecutive year county employees will not be receiving a raise, according to Kevin Robinson, county auditor.
The last COLA given to county employees was 1.0%.
It is worth noting, however, that earlier this month the county commission announced it will be absorbing a 10% increase in health insurance costs for employees.
The auditor's proposed budget, which was submitted to county officials in November, is significantly different from the budget the commission has submitted and is now available on the auditor's website.
Robinson said “he is not surprised by the budget the commission submitted given what they were recently confronted with.”
The commission proposes total revenue available for expenditures in the amount of $17,303,236. That is $926,226 less than what the auditor proposed a short time ago.
The commission's proposed budget is smaller than the one approved the previous year. The 2011 budget limited spending at $18,074,692.
What are the significant changes between what the auditor proposed and what the commission has proposed?
Since Robinson began working on the proposed budget back in September, two major projects have surfaced. As of Dec. 23, the county has adopted an agreement with Motorola to comply with an unfunded federal mandate that will quadruple the availability of communication channels to move toward becoming more efficient.
It is estimated that the equipment and lease will cost taxpayers a total of $10.7 million.
Additionally, a heavy price tag to fund a major expansion of the community centers has played a role in the commissioners’ proposed budget. In November, the commission approved to a fund a $5.4 million dollar aquatic center.
Recently, the Platte County R-3 school board approved a Facilities Development and Operation Cooperative Agreement to help fund the cost of the expansion. The school district will pay $1,358,020 over a 10-year time frame.
Given that negotiations for these two projects were still on-going and there were no specific details available when the auditor submitted his budget, they were not recommended by Robinson.
Robinson's forecast included a 2.0% growth in sales tax from the previous year.
Similarly, the commission anticipates the county receiving $7,715,149 in sales tax revenue.
Monies generated from liquor license, tow truck license, and auctioneer licenses are well below last year’s totals, while funds collected from property taxes are expected to remain flat.
Earlier this year, county officials voted against a cost-of-living adjustment for elected county officials.
However, Eric Zahnd, Platte County Prosecuting Attorney, will be receiving a raise since in Missouri the salary of prosecuting attorneys is determined by state law and are tied to the rate of pay for circuit court judges.
According to the budget, Zahnd's current salary is $109,366, but will increase to $113,112 next year.
On Jan. 3, the county commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed county budget, followed by a vote to approve the budget. Robinson said upon the budget’s approval, he will complete an analysis of the changes.