latte County Commission’s 2014 proposed budget has some contrasting differences from the budget recommended by the county auditor.
In its financial document released last week, commissioners strayed from a couple of noteworthy recommendations that had been made by Kevin Robinson, county auditor, in his recommended budget released in November.
The county commission’s proposed budget cuts the auditor’s projected revenues. Also, the commission goes against the auditor’s recommendation of a two percent pay raise for all employees.
The item likely to get the most attention inside county offices–and perhaps in the public as well–deals with a significant salary increase for one employee.
There is no pay raise in the proposed budget for county workers, county officials initially indicated.
But that’s not entirely accurate. The Landmark noticed an increase in the salary budget line item in the county ‘personnel department,’ which is the county’s human resources department.
The staff salary line in the human resources department shows an increase of $2,700 in 2014.
In a response to a question from The Landmark, Jason Brown, presiding commissioner, said an employee in the human resources department will see a pay increase of around $2,700 in 2014.
The human resources director is Mary Robinson, wife of the county auditor. The pay raise is for the employee working underneath Mary Robinson in the HR department, Brown said.
Brown said he argued against the pay raise for the HR worker in budget discussions with fellow commissioners Duane Soper and Beverlee Roper, but was overruled by the majority.
“A majority of the commissioners decided that (the $2,700 raise for the HR worker) was reasonable,” Brown said when reached by phone Monday morning just before The Landmark’s deadline for this issue.
Brown said he argued against the increase because “nobody else inside the government complex is getting a pay raise. That’s bad managerial policy.”
The HR employee’s salary in 2013 was $25,750. The increase of $2,697 will move her salary for 2014 to $28,447.
That amounts to a pay increase of 10.5%.
In another move noticed by The Landmark, the salary line item for workers in the office of Joan Harms, county clerk, has been reduced by $12,250.
Last year’s staff salary line item for the clerk’s office was $62,250. The 2014 proposed budget shows $50,000 in that line.
There are two workers in the clerk’s office, and the budget cut would seem to indicate both will now be part-time.
In regard to projected revenues, the county commission scaled back the auditor’s projections for county sales tax and use tax revenue in 2014.
As reported by The Landmark in November, the auditor had proposed a budget built off a projected one percent increase in sales and use tax revenue in 2014.
Robinson’s optimistic projection came despite the fact 2013 sales/use tax revenue actually dropped by half a percent.
“The projected revenue for 2014 is now set at zero,” Brown said Friday, indicating a preference to budget from real numbers.
The county’s action lowers projected sales/use tax income from the auditor’s recommendation of nearly $13 million to $12.5 million.
EMERGENCY RADIO PAYMENT BUDGETED
The 2014 budget includes the county’s 2015 principal and interest payment for the emergency radio system debt. That annual payment is $1.2 million and will be made with cash carryover and reserve, Brown said.
“There is still $2.15 million in the reserve/contingency,” Brown said.
“The Feb. 1, 2015 principal and interest payment for the Federally Unfunded Radios Mandate is budgeted in 2014 with the payment anticipated in December 2014. Cash carryover is estimated at $50,000. This approach prevents the possibility of a late payment due to the 2015 Commission Approved Budget not being adopted until late in January, as the statutory deadline for the adoption of the 2015 budget is January 30, 2015 due to the presiding commissioner’s office elections in November. This potential late January adoption of the 2015 budget would not allow for funds being appropriated with sufficient time for payment processing,” auditor Kevin Robinson writes in an attachment to the proposed budget.
A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for Monday, Jan. 6, at 10 a.m. during the county commission meeting.
Members of the public are free to attend and/or comment during the hearing.