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County's budget totals $24.9 million

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

Platte County Auditor Sandra Thomas says that a $24.9 million budget has been set for all county funds, up from the 2001 budget of $22.3 million.

Thomas presented the proposed budget to county commissioners at last week's meeting, noting some of the key areas that saw increases in revenue, expenditures and general fund projections.

A 10.52 percent increase in revenue for all funds was noted by Thomas at the meeting. The BRO Project, also known as the Sharp Station Bridge project, will see an increase of 19.6 percent, with sales/property and other taxes up 7.7 percent and a notable increase of 6.44 percent or approximately $3,000 for special assessments towards the NID project.

"The increases we've projected in the revenue fund aren't quite as optimistic as last year's budget due to the economy," stated Thomas.

The budget for the expenditure fund also represented an overall increase of 11.34 percent.

"One of the explanations for the increase is that some funds have carry over, such as the parks department," explained Thomas. "Close to $2 million in expenditures of their $4.5 million budget is due to money being left over from the 2001 budget.

"In 2002, the parks department will see more purchasing of land and improvements on that land like community centers and trail projects, where as in 2001 there was more planning."

The general county administration fund also marked the budget with an increase of 34 percent or approximately $1.3 million. The BRO project, which will also be visible in the expenditures fund, makes up about half of the estimated 34 percent increase.

Thomas stated that the BRO project was moved out of the public works road and bridge fund due to a cash flow issue.

"The public works budget couldn't await reimbursement for the project like the general administration fund can," said Thomas.

Thomas continued: "Platte County will have to expend for improvements to the bridge and then be reimbursed by the State of Missouri. We're anticipating an expenditure of $700,000."

Another fairly significant increase that was apparent in the expenditure fund was law enforcement with 14.33 percent. The department's increase is due to numerous grants the department has applied for, as well as a three percent increase in wages to cover a fully-staffed department.

According to Thomas, the more grants the department receives, the county must estimate funds the county has to contribute as a part of the grant requirements. Some of the project grants Thomas referred to include the NCAP program (Narcotics Control Assistant Program), the SRO officer, the HIDTA program (High Intensity Drug Trafficing Assistance), and the Cops Program.

Thomas also explained in a presentation to the commissioners that the proposed 2002 general fund budget would note a 5.7 percent increase, approximately $900,000 over 2001.

Revenue in the general fund was seen by an overwhelming 66 percent from property, sales, and other taxes. Thomas explained that the 10.17 percent increase in the revenue is due to growth, with the main portion gained by the addition of the Wal-Mart and Lowe's stores off Barry Road.

According to Thomas in 2000-2001, 10.7 percent was from just sales tax. Once separated, the sales tax represented only a two percent increase without Wal-Mart and Lowe's.

"Wal-Mart and Lowe's have contributed significantly. It allows the county to provide a higher level of services in the areas of law enforcement and planning and zoning due to the sales tax revenue increase we've shown in the overall revenue and general fund," said Thomas.
In the projected 2002 general fund expenditures budget, law enforcement will take 40 percent of the budget to cover their needed expenses such as new vehicles, salaries and investigative costs. That budgeted expense is an increase of nine percent over the actual budget for 2001. General county administration will also be a large expense, with the BRO project falling in the category. Roughly 34 percent of the expenses will be comprised of general county administration expenses, with the BRO project being one of the main reasons.

Thomas stated that she feels there are two significant portions to the budget. The $4.5 million budget of the parks and recreation department.

"There will probably be an amendment to their budget later in the year due to the issuing of more debt for parks capital improvement projects," stated Thomas. "I could see them forming a bond issue."

The second is the significant expenditure of the stormwater issue for the capital improvement project. Last year $1 million was budgeted and about half was used, this year there will be $1.5 million budgeted which will enable them to complete more projects. The money received is due to the half cent sales tax for the parks department and stormwater projects.