"We will probably budget the same as we have for the last few years," said Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner. "We are expecting to be flat on our sales tax projections again this year.
"We operate on sales tax revenues and fees only," said Warren. "We have no tax rate on real estate, so when you have sales tax like we have over the last three years, it puts a severe cramp on county government. We have felt pretty thankful that we have held it in the black by a small margin this year."
According to Warren, the county commission was forced to dip into its reserves slightly to cover 2010 expenditures.
Budget requests for 2011 total $3,694,397, which is $6,356 more than 2010's $3,688,011 budget and $51,275 more than the $3,643,092 actually spent last year.
Barry County officeholders have asked for pay raises for county employees this year. The commission has denied pay raises over the last three years.
"Our employees deserve raises, but we have to have the money to afford those raises," said Warren. "We did receive a small increase in our insurance, which will cost around $15,000 for all employees. We covered that last year and plan to absorb it again this year."
Warren pointed out that the county's obligation with Walmart for the Cassville Supercenter Project ended in 2010.
"That is worth around $35,000 additional revenue," said Warren. "The insurance increase will eat up $15,000, but we will still have additional revenue there."
The 2011 budget requests include an additional $90,334 for the county commission. Last year, the commission spent $93,566. This year, the request is for $183,900.
"We ordered two patrol cars at the beginning of December 2010," said Gary Youngblood, county clerk. "Those additional funds will cover the purchase of those cars.
"If revenues are sufficient, we would also like to purchase two more patrol cars this year," said Youngblood. "There have been a couple of years that we have been unable to buy any new cars."
The Barry County Commission will discuss the purchase of the patrol cars and other budget requests during the 2011 budget hearing, which will be held at the Barry County Courthouse in Cassville at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20. The hearing is open to the public.
"Over the last two or three years, we have tried to do our very best with what revenue we have had," said Warren. "We have had no massive layoffs. It might not have been the picture we would like to see, but we have been in a lot better shape than a lot of counties.
"We have a statutory requirement to balance the budget, so we have to have the revenue before we can spend it," said Warren. "We hope that the economy starts to improve this year. We are hopeful things will be better in 2011."
A detailed breakdown of budget requests by office and department is highlighted in the budget chart that accompanies this article.