Monday, October 4, 2010

Boone County’s October 6th Miracle

The Boone County Board’s Finance Subcommittee for the 2011 budget has not meet for two weeks.  The 2-3 meetings a week process stopped after agreeing to a broad outline concerning what reserve and annual funds would (or might be) considered revenue for the period and the subcommittee agreed that a 3% decrease in department spending across the board would bring the budget into an acceptable balance.  The major department budgets (Sheriff, County Clerk, Clerk of the Circuit Court, States Attorney and Public Defender) were basically the same as FY 2010 although “bare bones” if not large decreases were requested by the county board. The committee requested that County Administrator, Ken Terrinoni, and Finance Chairman, Karl Johnson, work with the individual department heads and work out the 3% reduction (or best solution).  Asked by one of the  board members “how this could happen”, Mr. Terrinoni said he “knew” where savings (“dead bodies”) were hiding in the budgets.

Will the miracle happen?  Will $400,000 be found?  Will a county budget be agreed and passed before the November deadline?  Will the numbers be known to the public prior to the November 2 election?

Based upon the subcommittee’s paper trail and  committee presentation the following summary is provided:

  • The budget overall summary is provided in the photocopy below.  A $1.764 million deficit (“A” in red) is estimated based upon continued 2010 revenue and expenditures.  $1.473 million in “additional revenue” are shown below item “A”.  $430,000 in increased real estate tax levies based upon new property being place upon the roles and taxing to levy maximums.  [In the current down real estate market is this really possible?]  The next four items are borrowing from other levies.  $250,000 decrease in the Highway Department’s matching road fund.  In 2011 needed matching funds for state and federal grants for road construction will have to draw down previous year’s reserves. Likewise the Tort Fund is decreased $200,000 and reserves from prior years must be used for FY 2011 tort expenditures.  The Bridge Fund usually accumulates funds for several years and then a bridge is reconstructed or rebuilt (usually a million dollar plus project). $350,000 of the bridge fund will be used by the general fund in FY 2011. Finally the Health Department’s levy is decreased  by $143,000 and that amount will be used for general fund operation.  The effect on the Health Department is minimal.  Health Department Administrator, Ms.Stephanie (Seaworth) Crawford resigned and may not be replaced.  [That is actually a Health Department decision.]  And the salary for the county’s soil scientist will no longer be paid by the Health Department.2011 budget overview
  • Circled in red, the deficit is now $391,039.  Mr. Johnson and Terrinoni were instructed to seek budget concession for approximately this amount [actually $400,000] from the county departments. Prior to this direction committee discussions pointed to the fact that  a 3% reduction in the $13.558 million projected expenditures was approximately $400,000 [actually $406,742].  And that over half of the $400,000 could be obtained by a give-back of the 3% non-union  pay raise granted for 2010 [See photocopy below, $82,050] and a corresponding 3% decrease in union wages [See photocopy below, $156,838 decrease either through union concessions or layoff’s].     Click on the photocopy to enlarge.                                                                     2011 non-union cut 2011 union cut
  •   To some extent the quest for the $400,000 is already shown. $200,000 in one time transfer from Tax Sale Fund and a $200,000 one time transfer from the Maple Crest fund are shown at the bottom of the top photocopy.  Will Mr. Terrinoni and Mr.Johnson find any “bodies” in their discussions with the departments?  Will the county board make any hard decisions for the FY 2011 budget?  If not, how is this situation going to change for FY 2012?  How many of the one-time revenues will be available in 2012?  Perhaps FY2012 will be the year of the “miracle”.
  • Finally in case things appear heading for a possible solution—Does the FY 2011 budget mean anything? Will the unions gain  additional wage increase in negotiations which begin in November?  Will the county negotiate from a point of strength?  Will the county threaten and carry through job cuts for union contract demands that exceed the 2011 budget? Or will expenditures just exceed the budget and deficits increase?                                                                        Some county board members (Marshall Newhouse, Republican, District 1, in particular) has suggested that Public Safety expenditures not be subject to any cuts.
  • Will any departments have any cuts?