Waldo County officials approve $8.2 million budget

By Ben Holbrook | Jan 10, 2013

At their Dec. 14 meeting, Waldo County commissioners approved an overall budget of $8.2 million for 2013, with the majority of the additional spending due to contractual raises and increases in employee benefits, as well as technology equipment upgrades.

Overall, the budget increased by $240,474, or three percent, over the budget for 2012. Commission Chair Bill Shorey explained that officials decided to begin purchasing radios, servers, computers and other equipment, versus leasing the items for a five-year period, as had been done in the past.

The county spent $79,000 in 2012 to upgrade the radio equipment, and another $220,000 is being spent in 2013 to begin the process of upgrading the computers and servers, Shorey said. Of that total, the county is raising $110,000 through taxes, and appropriating the remaining $110,000 from the undesignated fund balance.

A final expenditure of $240,000 will be made in 2014 to complete the upgrades, Shorey said.

He said that by opting to buy the equipment versus leasing it, the county saves about $47,000 in interest payments. Once replaced, Shorey said the equipment would last for five to six years.

In addition to the increased amounts for equipment, Shorey said, fuel prices are always a difficult cost to pin down and the county does its best to accurately anticipate fluctuations in the prices. He noted a discrepancy of 25 cents a gallon could throw a budget off by $15,000 to $20,000.

In terms of savings, Shorey said many county departments are about as lean as they can be. He said some savings were found in the county’s interest rate payments after receiving a favorable bid from Key Bank. The county also cut about $30,000 from the insurance fund.

Nearly $1.3 million is budgeted for 2013 to pay for employee benefits.

“I think we’ve got a pretty lean budget,” Shorey said. “You’d like to think that you can come out with a level budget, but that’s nearly impossible when you have inflation and contractual raises.”

On a positive note, Shorey noted that the 2013 budget is nearly $60,000 under the state LD 1 cap. The LD 1 cap was created in 2005 by the state in an effort to curb excessive spending by local governments and to reduce the tax burden on residents.

“Everybody works to do the best they can. Our budget system is a good one. Usually any fat gets trimmed by the end,” Shorey said.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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