More funds sought in budget
Only two County Commissioners took part in Polk County’s final work session for the coming fiscal year’s budget in 2018, and only two more departments had official requests for funds for the coming year.
Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats was making a request of commissioners for his budget to include additional training funds for his commanders and officers to use for the rest of 2017 and into 2018.
In the coming year’s budget, he originally requested $6,000 in funds to cover costs for deputies or commanding officers in the Sheriff’s Office administration to seek out training, especially those who are supervisors.
“I have supervisors working in my jail right now that haven’t ever taken any supervising training courses,” Moats explained to the board.
His request was cut in half in this year’s proposed budget to $3,000, which he said wasn’t enough when covering costs of registration, hotel, gas and food for those participating for only a few to utilize the program.
Or for more specific numbers, at $3,000 the money would only stretch to somewhere around $40 per deputy according to estimates from the Sheriff.
Most of the training for officers is either classroom time locally or being out qualifying with weaponry on the firing line.
However, in past years Chief Jailer Al Sharp and Moats said they’ve been encouraging jailers to take part in first responder classes to give them medical training to help with inmates emergency medical needs while in jail.
Commissioners said they would try to find additional funds as Moats also took the opportunity to remind the board he had no real control over whether his budget will go over in costs for the year.
Moats said factors such as how many inmates he held in the jail at any given time to repair costs can drive up his overall budget for the year and has done so in the past.
Sharp also asked the board if funds for his project of needed repairs of jail cells is also needed. However those costs won’t be included in the regular budget for FY 2018, but instead will be repaired as part of funds set aside for Capital Improvement Projects coming up this year.
Having to repair the jail’s fire alarm system and their controls within also were projects unanticipated in 2016 and 2017 during the current fiscal year, which he said cost additional money the jail hadn’t considered having to set aside in costs.
However, Sharp said the county won’t be paying nearly as much as they previously had projected for jail cell repairs.
He said he was able to track down plans put together by contractors in the 1990s when the most recent additions to the jail were built, and
Those projects were eventually paid for through funds set aside from the landfill account and the 2014 Special Purpose, Local Option Sales Tax funds.
Commissioners also asked about new contracts starting up for the Polk County Jail’s prisoner medical services. A new company, Southern Corrections Health, is taking over the contract for medical services from Southern Health Partners.
Not only will they save money according to Sharp, but also get away from a company he said has numerous lawsuits against them underway.
Plumbing and roofing repairs will also be sought for the jail this year using SPLOST funds. County Manager Matt Denton reported to board chair Marshelle Thaxton and board member Chuck Thaxton that he’d already had discussions with a potential contractor to do work on the roof and plumbing in attempts to keep costs down, but had no concrete figures yet on costs.
After the Sheriff’s office finished up their request, County Extension Coordinator Ricky Ensley sought additional funds for his department as well.
The county doesn’t directly fund the University of Georgia-based office here in Polk, but does provide an annual payment covering costs of half of the salaries for Ensley and employees at the office.
Ensley asked the board to consider add- ing just under $500 to the annual payment they make to the state for the extension office to match a 1.25 percent increase in pay that other county employees get.
The argument that county officials made during their discussions at the close of the work session is that since other departments in this situation only partially funded by Polk County’s government via supplements don’t get increases in their salaries either.
That includes District Attorney Jack Browning, local judges and those who receive money as lump sums from the county. No promise of an increase was made. The budget this year also had a request for increases from Polk County Animal Control director Jeff Crawford for his department, with the promise of slight increases for the costs of food and cleaning supplies.
The coming year’s balanced funds coming in at more than $20 million in revenue and expenditures for the coming fiscal year.
Four out of six commissioners were on hand for the first round of budget work sessions held on the coming finances for July 2017 to June 2018, which includes an annual step raise increase of 1.25 percent for all employees.
Cuts came across the board off of what departments had requested in expenditures for the year in several areas, but generally numbers were only slightly above the proposed and approved budgets for FY 2017.
The proposed budget calls for $14.9 million in property tax collections for the county, along with $147,700 from licenses and permits, $743,450 from intergovernmental revenues, $889,250 for charges for services, $717,700 from fines and forfeitures, 5,000 from investment income, 576,530 from miscellaneous sources and $ 2,775,000 in other revenue sources which includes $1.5 million from the annual payments from Waste Industries, and $965,000 from the prior fund balance.
Another $20,000 of the other revenue will also come from sales of assets.
Some of that money will be set aside, such as $170,000 for the landfill contingency fund and $60,000 from funds for rental income on the landfill transfer station used by Waste Industries at the Grady Road landfill.
As far as expenditures go for the year, the proposed budget put forth by County Manager Matt Denton for the commission to consider includes $4,196,823 in general government spending, $ 2,604,755 for the judicial system, $ 8,863,035 in public safety costs, $3,464,904 for Public Works, $650,053 for housing and development and $980,060 in agency allocations for the year.
Breaking down costs further, Public Safety spending was broken down at a total of $4,506,333 for the Polk County Sheriff, $2,787,859 for the police department, $422,360 for prisoner medical services at the Polk County Jail, $322,783 for Animal Control, $83,103 for the county probation officers, $192,425 for the fire department, Emergency Management Agency costs at $172,549, and 911 services totaling $323,000. The County Coroner has a budget of $52,623.
Not included in the budget is any funds being set aside for the potential for Polk County’s Fire Department bringing on paid firefighters into their ranks and moving stations, since county administrators are waiting to see whether a SAFER grant to help pay for firefighters will be awarded. There’s also no funding mechanism in place either.
About $2.8 million of the $3.4 million set aside for Public Works will be spent on the department operations itself, with an additional $569,653 budgeted for local solid waste collection costs during the coming fiscal year.
Housing and development costs this year also included the airport, which totaled $336,660 for operations in the coming year.
Totaled together and balanced, the budget comes out to $20,759,630. That compares to the $20,962,292 requested by departments for the coming year’s fiscal budget, with cuts in the final proposal from Denton totaling $202,662.
Commissioners also pointed out that in past years, the county hasn’t needed to pull from a Tax Anticipation Note in order to cover the bills before revenue can cover overruns.