Mt. Vernon Register-News


October 4, 2013

County achieves balanced budget


MT. VERNON — In a shocking development, Jefferson County's Fiscal Committee has tentatively approved a $10.3 million budget for Fiscal Year 2013-2014.

As recently as three weeks ago, the county was faced with a $300,000 shortfall in its budget. Following meetings with officeholders, Administrative Assistant Suzy Tate informed the committee on Thursday night a balanced budget had been achieved.

How the county got there, and in the process being able to bring back several employees who had been laid off due to the loss of ICE detainees, was a daunting task.

Committee Chair John Keele said it was a matter of going through the budget line by line to achieve the balanced budget.

"I had some input, but Suzy and Chairman Robert White did most of the work. Suzy, particularly, put in a lot of hard work," he said. "The officeholders were very cooperative, and made a lot of sacrifices to have a balanced budget."

Keele was particularly pleased the county is able to keep $151,141 in the payroll emergency reserve fund.

"We are glad we will be able to carry that over," Keele said.

Reductions were made through contract negotiations with Advanced Health Care Corrections, taking the contract from $300,000 to $161,000. At the same time, Tate said the county has realized additional savings in medical care for prisoners as a result of going through a Medicaid/Medicare billing process.

The sheriff's department proposed budget of $1.5 million will include the recall of two deputies and one telecommunications specialist. As a result of more manpower, overtime was reduced from $124,000 to $100,000. Medical supplies for the jail were reduced from $100,000 to $25,000, but the food budget was raised $10,000. Major Scott Burge explained that fewer prisoners actually costs the county more since the county is not able to buy in bulk supplies.

The county was able to increase the amount to house city prisoners from $30,000 per year to $75,000 per year. The proposed jail budget is $1.8 million.

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