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Grayson budget on track

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Halfway through the fiscal year, the county's budget is where it needs to be. But, officials warn that some unexpected costs could loom in the second half.

By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Halfway through the county’s fiscal year, Grayson has expended 41 percent of its budgeted dollars.
That number, however, could be misleading as expenses could still be on the horizon.
At the board of supervisors’ December meeting, County Administrator Jonathan Sweet pointed out that, at the mid-point in the budget year, only three departments are overspent — the electoral board, circuit court and local support.
He said some anomalies contributed to that overspending, which could potentially be fixed before the conclusion of the budget year.
Leesa Gayheart, the county’s finance director, explained further at the meeting.
Gayheart spoke first about the electoral board’s budget and noted that the department is working to recoup some state funding.
Because of the Republican presidential primary in June, some of the funds were expended in the current budget year and that has pushed the electoral board budget over what it should have been.
“They are still in the process of working on it,” she explained to the board.
The second overspent budget is the circuit court, which came in at 426 percent of the budgeted amount so far, or $15,664 over budget.
Gayheart explained that the county is now being billed for support staff for the circuit court judge’s office.
The person in that position travels to Grayson at least once a week, and Carroll County has been footing the bill for that entire salary in the past. Now, Carroll has asked Grayson to share in that cost.
“We weren’t expecting that,” Gayheart said, noting that the percentage is going back two fiscal years.
The third category that was overspent was local support, which showed up at 107 percent of the budgeted amount, or $3,050 over budget.
“Everything else is really spot on,” Gayheart added.
Sweet commended the board for working hard to approve the budgets as “no more, no less.”
The numbers show the county has expended $6.8 million of its $16.6 million budget so far, which is to the county’s favor, but that may not necessarily be the case at the end of the year, Sweet cautioned.
Many department budgets, such as the recreation department, might be “back-loaded,” or set to expend most of their budgets in the spring and summer.
“These numbers are only as good as the information that supports them,” Sweet said. “There could be some back end expenditures versus others having a lot of front end expenditures.”
Sweet added that he was “pleased with the management of the budget our department heads are showing.”

Educational Costs
One piece of the budget that is likely to have an impact on whether the county finishes the fiscal year over or under spent is the possibility of additional funding requirements to the school system.
The school system is maintaining its Average Daily Membership (ADM), which it had not budgeted to do.
Because of the increase in ADM, which helps determine state and local funding amounts, the county could be on the hook for an additional $165,000 before the end of the year.
Sweet said it was both a good and bad thing — it was good the school system was maintaining its enrollment, but bad that the county would be required to come up with a large chunk of money that had not been budgeted for.
The numbers won’t be finalized until March, but if they hold true the board will have to decide how it makes that additional appropriation.
The county unofficially planned an additional $85,000 for the school system above the local required effort in exchange for a few items prior to the 2012-13 budget and could count that potential appropriation towards the $165,000 it may have to make up.
“That’s still subject to change,” Sweet pointed out. “We were comfortable with the $85,000 [appropriation] so it makes our challenge a little less to come up with $80,000 instead of the full $165,000.”
Sweet said he appreciated the school division for giving him notice well in advance of March.
“I feel we have a great rapport with the school system,” Sweet told the board. “We are communicating very often and effectively with the superintendent and his staff and this is an example of that.”