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Commissioners continue budget review

Revised budget proposals and cautious commissioners prompted the call for additional budget hearings on Monday.

After receiving two revised budget proposals and receiving more information about the impact of employee raises, commissioners decided to call a special budget hearing to continue to review the proposed fiscal year 2011 budget. “I’m not comfortable with this yet,” said Chairman Jimmy Barron.

The meeting will take place at 5:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20.

A $685,000 payment from FEMA has prompted a revision to the proposed Pike County road department budget for fiscal year 2011.

County Engineer Russell Oliver presented the revised budget proposal, which included some additional $500,000 in the retained fund balance, to the commissioners during their Monday night meeting.

“Basically when we submitted the first draft of the budget, we knew we would be receiving the FEMA funding, but we had not received it yet,” Oliver said. “We finally received those payments.”

Oliver said the county expects to spend a portion of the $685,000 this fiscal year and should carry over at least $500,000 to the next fiscal year. The FEMA funds are reimbursements for county funds spent on road repairs caused by severe weather during the past year.

Oliver’s wasn’t the only budget revision offered to the commission on Monday. Pike County EMA Director Jeanna Barnes submitted a request to increase the expense portion of the EMA budget to $114,459.55, which would allow for the addition of a full-time assistant to the office. Barnes said the office will be funded by approximately $134,000 in state and federal grant funds. Currently, Barnes is the only full-time staff person. She has a temporary assistant whose position is not budgeted for fiscal year 2011.

“The times are changing,” Barnes said, after detailing the extensive plan of work for the agency. “There’s a lot more to do and it’s easy to think that Larry (Davis) did it for 10 years without any help. But, especially with the growth at Troy University … and the growth in the community … our responsibilities are growing.”

Barnes explained that Emergency Planning Management Grants from the state pay half the operating costs and salary expenses of the office. And, because of her CLEM certification, the county will be eligible to receive an additional $12,000 in state funding next year.

Commissioners must decide what to do about the staffing, as well as pay raises for county employees, by Oct. 1, when state law requires a balanced budget be in place.

County Administrator Harry Sanders presented commissioners more information about the impact on the traditional 3 percent pay raises, as requested, during Monday’s meeting. According to Sanders’ calculations, the 3 percent pay raises would cost $65,043.18 over the course of fiscal year 2011, an impact felt across three different sections of the budget: the general fund, the road department and the reappraisal department.

In the general fund budget, as initially proposed but not yet approved, granting 3 percent raises would leave a surplus of $80,676; not granting the raises would leave a surplus of $123,741, Sanders said.

However, commissioners were cautious about making any decisions.

“Just because we’re not in the red now, we don’t need to spend money,” said Charlie Harris.