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Another tight year for the Barry County budget

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Barry County officials are looking at another bare bones budget in 2012 as they consider just under $3.5 million in spending requests submitted by county officeholders.

The 2012 requests total $3,490,143 and are $91,709 less than the total budget of $3,581,852 approved in 2011 and $20,463 less than the county actually spent last year. Additional cuts or changes to the county's spending plan could be made before the Barry County Commission finalizes the budget for the new year.

County residents will have the opportunity to provide input on the proposed budget during a public hearing, which has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19 in the commission room on the first floor of the Barry County Courthouse in Cassville.

This year's proposed budget includes a number of cuts to law enforcement funding, which were expected after county voters failed to pass a law enforcement sales tax in November 2011.

The sheriff decreased his budget from $678,550 in 2011 to $564,350 for the coming year. To reduce his operating expenses, Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly was forced to cut four deputies from his staff. The jail budget will also be reduced from $401,380 last year to $383,970 in 2012. This change reflects the loss of three part-time jail employees.

The Southwest Drug Task Force is also facing a significantly lower budget allocation in the coming year. The $112,914 requested in 2012 is almost half of the $218,149 approved in 2011. Because of a loss of grant money, the task force reduced the number of its agents by two.

County Clerk Gary Youngblood said he expects the task force budget to increase because a new grant was secured after the budget information was compiled. The additional funding will be used to restore officers to the drug-fighting unit.

The only budget categories expected to increase in 2012 are the county commission, elections and office supplies budgets.

The commission is requesting a budget of $311,100, which is considerably higher than the $187,000 approved in 2011. According to Youngblood, the county is forced to earmark $185,000 out of the commission's budget to cover the cost of the Christopher Collings and David Spears capital murder trials, which are expected to take place this year.

The elections and office supplies budgets are increasing in 2012 due to the fact that Barry County will have to put on four countywide elections in February, April, August and November.

The county has also earmarked $48,000 for capital projects in the coming year, which is $27,000 less than last year's allocation. The amount budgeted for 2012 will cover the final payment on the county's jail expansion project that was completed in 2009.

A chart detailing the 2012 budget requests accompanies this article.

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Am I misreading this? From this article, it appears that the Sheriff's Office is the only ones that have had to lay off personnel in order to meet the lower budget requirements. Why is this?? I have heard that the County Clerk's office has 2 full time clerks and 2 part time clerks... why is it more important to have part time clerks at his office but lay off 3 part time jailers? Or 2 part time clerks would almost pay for 1 full time deputy.

Why would anyone in their right mind lay off the LAW ENFORCEMENT for the county over office clerks? (no offense meant for office clerks - but they don't protect us or our property)

Why is the sheriff's office being forced to take the ONLY personnel lay-offs in the county? Of all offices to lay off people, the law enforcement is the LAST place that I want it to come from! I'm willing to wait a few more minutes in line to pay my taxes, check on voter registration, etc. but I'm not willing to wait a few extra minutes when my life is in danger and I need a deputy or give up any time knowing that arrested criminals are being kept in the jail and taken care of by jailers.

It is the county's responsibility to financially support the sheriff's office.

What is more important than our safety and well being?

-- Posted by golden75 on Wed, Jan 11, 2012, at 9:23 PM

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