More funds sought in bud­get

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Kevin Myrick Edi­tor

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.

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