Grundy County Commission adopts deficit budget for 2021

Grundy County Courthouse Trenton Missouri

The Grundy County Commission unanimously adopted a deficit budget for 2021 the morning of January 26th. The budget estimates total revenues of $5,736,634 and expenditures of $6,928,813. A balance deficit of $1,192,179 is expected for 2021.

The county begins the year with carryover funds of $3,910,220.81. The projected ending balance is $2,718,041.81.

Grundy County Clerk Betty Spickard reported this year’s budget involves keeping medical insurance at the same price and increases in worker compensation as well as liability insurance and vehicle insurance due to the purchase of an ambulance, ambulance equipment, and new sheriff vehicles. The insurance raises are subject to change with a worker compensation audit and purchases of other new equipment.

A 50-cent per hour raise for all employees was included in the budget due to the minimum raise increase and a two percent increase in elected official salaries. The increase to just wages and FICA is about $192,512. Employees only make up about $184,847 of that. Spickard said the county knows it is not a mandate to give the raises, but it feels it needs to stay competitive with the minimum wage to keep and hire new employees.

Items budgeted for include a new ambulance and box at $183,000 and a track hoe for the Road and Bridge Department at $75,000 to be able to clean out debris and build bridges and not have to rent throughout the year. Other expenses include bridges budgeted for in the past but not completed, repair of the Berry Bridge that the Federal Emergency Management Agency dropped at $450,000, and the hiring of at least one more employee for the Road and Bridge Department.

Spickard said new doors for the courthouse are planned due to the marble and door casings deteriorating from water getting under the doors and repair is planned of the driveway where the sewer was torn up last year and concrete is needed to repair the settling ground. Building repairs and maintenance are budgeted at $60,000.

A new 911 system is in the budget for $400,000 to replace the current system installed in 2007 when the law enforcement center was built. The current system is said to be outdated, and the county can no longer find parts for repair.

It was noted the commissioners are concerned with the deficit amount, but they feel they cannot put off repairs. Commissioner Don Sager said hopefully the county will be able to get everything done. Officeholders are asked to keep spending conservatively to help cut costs as much as possible.

The 2020 budget had a projected deficit of $868,717, but it ended with a positive balance of $155,584.03. Revenues were greater than expected by $619,979, and expenses came in less than anticipated by $1,645,658.

Spickard reported expenses were down due to no courtroom remodel, jury trials not being held, and possible election costs budgeted for not being spent. She noted bridges were unable to be built due to employee shortage and Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster work. All departments stayed below their budgeted amounts.

Presiding Commissioner Phillip Ray noted the impact of the pandemic was minimized by COVID-19 relief funding. The county received about $1.15 million in CARES Act funding last year and distributed it to Grundy County taxable entities based on a formula that used percentages of assessed valuation.

Ray said a “silver lining” was that sales tax revenues were up because residents utilized what was available in Grundy County. The county budgeted $450,000 for each half-cent tax for general revenue, ambulance, and law enforcement funds last year, and each actually received around $499,600. That was up about 5.7% for each from 2019. Four hundred seventy-five thousand dollars is budgeted for each fund this year.

The approved extending COVID leave to employees and accepted a bid for 911 radio system consulting services.

Presiding Commissioner Phillip Ray reported the 80 hours of COVID leave for employees will now go through the end of 2021.

Tusa of Liberty is to provide radio system consulting services at a cost not to exceed $27,000.

A petition was approved requesting an election on the question of issuing $70,000 general obligation road bonds of Marion Township.

The Grundy County Commission also withdrew from the Natural Resources Conservation Service Streambank Stabilization Program.