The Barry County Commission adopted a very conservative budget for 2010 following a public hearing on Jan. 21. County officeholders will be operating under a $3.68 million spending plan, which is $52,205 less than requested.
For the third consecutive year, the county was unable to give employee pay raises. Based on the 2010 budget message, the county is expecting their half-cent sales tax to generate $1,732,006, which is equal to 2009 sales tax receipts.
The sales tax represents 51 percent of the county's revenues. The county does not receive property tax revenue. The county also anticipates that it will receive the following revenues: $915,482, intergovernmental revenues; $676,150, service fees; and $119,752, other revenue.
"This wasn't an easy year for us to budget with revenues down," said Presiding Commissioner Cherry Warren. "We were down $168,000 last year, which means we had to budget less."
In addition to freezing employee salaries at their current levels over the last three years, county officeholders have not received a raise since 2003, said Warren. This year, the Barry County Salary Commission voted not to raise county officeholders salaries within the next four years.
"We did pick up our employees additional increase in insurance this year," said Warren. "If we had not done that, our county employees would have received salary cuts."
This year's budget includes $75,000 in capital projects funding. This amount will be used as a loan payment for the Barry County Jail addition. The county took out a $200,000 loan to complete the jail expansion project.
"We took a loan with Security Bank at 3.25 percent interest," said Warren. "Next year, we will have that loan paid off. It was cheaper for us to use a local bank than a bond issue."
The county currently has $107,000 in its emergency funds. If sales tax revenues remain the same or decrease in 2010, the county will be required to use some of its emergency funds to pay for budget expenses.
"I think we are blessed," said Warren. "Generally, the financial situation is better in Barry County than in a lot of other areas in the state. I am thankful that we are where we are. This is a bare bones budget, but tough times don't last.
"I want to thank all of the office holders and employees for being understanding of the situation we are in," said Warren. "We have an excellent set of officeholders and employees who do the very best job they can to give outstanding services to Barry County with what revenue we have available."
Although the county commission considered placing a quarter-cent sales tax on the ballot in 2009, Warren stated that no new tax issue would be presented this year.
"I think with the economic climate the way it is today, a sales tax would be a pretty tough sell," said Warren.
A complete 2010 budget breakdown with comparisons to 2009 budget figures accompanies this article.