Merely 20 days following the approval of the 2012 budget, the commission approved about a dozen amendments and transfers to the budget during an administrative session Monday.
Kevin Robinson, Platte County auditor, said the adjustment of these expenditures was necessary to appropriately finalize the 2012 budget. The budget areas affected by the shift of funds include the public administrator’s office, county clerk, recorder of deeds, planning and zoning, sheriff’s office, department of recreation, Shiloh Springs, collector, and Kansas City road construction.
This year’s budget presented a significant challenge to commissioners as a result of the required funding for a federal narrowbanding emergency radio mandate.
Some of the significant cuts in the 2012 budget include the closing of the county’s annex center in Platte Woods, the elimination of a switchboard operator position, and changes to the in-house mail delivery system.
At this time the commission does not have a timetable set to close the annex center. Potentially there is a savings of about $75,000 in 2012. In years that follow, there is a possible annual savings of about $100,000 in rent, security, utilities, and equipment expenditures. It is unknown at this time whether the three staff members who work at the annex will be retained and relocated.
The elimination of the switchboard operator position, which occurred earlier this year, has been a somewhat contentious matter among some citizens and officeholders.
According to the county auditor, the commission’s budgeting philosophy in place this year is not sustainable in future years. “In part because the general fund is not capable of funding the federal radio mandate without assistance from the other funding sources,” said Robinson.
Equipment for the radio mandate must be purchased this year and interest payments must be paid in 2013, said Robinson. Additionally, a lease payment is due on Feb. 1, 2014, added Robinson. These costs are expected to be approximately $2 million. Robinson said the budget cannot sustain another $500,000 cut in order to fund these expenses without “serious consequences.”
The final budget the commission presented “did not attempt to fund the federal radio mandate” which is expected to cost $10.2 million over the next 11 years, according to Robinson.
The bright spot in the near future is that the last payment of the Platte County Resource Center bond will be made in 2013. This will free up $525,000 annually, said Robinson.
“These are challenging times and the commissioners’ responsibility as policy-makers is enormous. The unfunded federal radio mandate is likely to be the first of many unfunded mandates, and all of us must be prepared and expect to see more challenges; even in a strong economy, with the federal government and state cutting funding in attempts to cut the deficit. While we are not alone, the federal government and state will push more down to the local level,” Robinson told The Landmark.
Another officeholder whot recently voiced his concern regarding the sustainability of the budget addressed the commission during a public hearing held on Jan. 5. Eric Zahnd, prosecuting attorney, who was initially faced with receiving less than requested for his office’s budget, proposed that the commission consider reducing the half cent park’s tax to 1/8 cent and add a quarter cent sales tax for law enforcement.
“If you do that, you will give everyone who lives, works, and shops in Platte County a well-deserved tax cut. They will pay 1/8 cent less on every purchase they make in Platte County. And you will also realign our budget with the priorities of the people: the core governmental functions like law enforcement over indulgences like walking trails and swimming pools,” said Zahnd.
Following Zahnd’s suggestion on Jan. 5, the commission issued a stop order on the $21 million expansion to the Platte County Community Centers. The commission told The Landmark this week that the stop order remains in place, even though two weeks ago in open session both Kathy Dusenbery, first district commissioner, and Jim Plunkett, second district commissioner, said they have no intention of proposing any changes to the half cent park tax.
“The contractors are still on hold and are in the same condition as when the stop order was put in place,” said Brian Nowotny, director of parks and recreation
A copy of the 2012 budget is available on-line at www.co.platte.us
In other news, the board approved a road right-of-way and easement of land for the construction of a roundabout located at 9 Highway and 57th Street. Currently, the intersection is a four way stop. The amount of property affected by the construction is half of an acre, said Nowotny.
Dusenbery said she is enthusiastic about this project.
Also on Monday, Joseph Matovu, assistant executive director of The Whole Person, a non-profit corporation that provides independent living services to individuals with disabilities, told the commission he would appreciate their help in raising awareness about the programs they offer to the community. The Whole Person provides services free of charge to promote independence and self-reliance to individuals with significant disabilities.
According to Matovu, The Whole Person offers a consumer directed service program that helps people with disabilities obtain assistance for personal care and day-to-day activities such as meal preparation, cleaning, and personal hygiene. To be eligible for Missouri’s consumer directed services individuals with disabilities or chronic medical conditions must have Missouri Medicaid, be at least 18 years of age, and possess the ability to handle their own care.
More information can be obtained at thewholeperson.org or by calling toll free at 800-878-3037.