Mt. Vernon Register-News

May 18, 2013

County's financial picture improves

By RICK HAYES
rick.hayes@register-news.com

---- — MT. VERNON — Despite not having ICE revenues for six months, Treasurer Dan Knox reported the county is "not out of the woods by a long shot," but the financial condition of the county has improved in the last 30 days.Claims pending as of Monday will be just over $67,000, which is significantly lower than in previous months."The good news is that is about $20,000 less than we've had for the last two months for sure, so that's a positive step," Knox said at Thursday's Fiscal Committee meeting.Knox said he is currently holding checks in the treasurer's office, and the county has not received the April payment for the local use tax, but said there is a good chance it could be received by Monday."We got a payment of $170,000 for the state income tax which allowed us to pay everything that we could, starting with the latest and moving to the most current, so the back claims are in pretty decent shape," Knox said. He projected a deficit of $35,000 by the end of June.Claims to be paid in the clerk's office and not been released is around $48,000; and claims sitting in the treasurer's office is $52,000, resulting in approximate $183,000 in claims over revenue."Are we moving in a positive direction? I'm going to say a little bit. I'm not to get excited, but it is exciting to get a lot of our backlog of claims paid up. And the more $195,000 payrolls that we have where the overtime is controlled and managed well, then the better off we are," Knox said. During the public input portion of the meeting, Jere Shaw and Chairman Robert White traded barbs — White frustrated that Shaw belabored his point; Shaw frustrated by White's "bullying," according to Shaw."Quit chasing ICE prisoners," Shaw finally said after attempting to give a history on problems associated with the construction of the jail. "It's (the jail) not going to pay for itself."Former County Board member Ted Buck entered the conversation, indicating the housing of ICE prisoners has been a losing proposition for the county, since not all of the costs associated with the housing of prisoners is included in the budget."We're subsidizing the federal government," Buck said.In other action during the meeting, coroner Eddie Joe Marks withdrew his request to purchase a van for his office, and county officials have now learned they can pay deputy coroner salaries out of the cremation fund. Officials researched the subject after Marks first reported he couldn't use the fund due to state statute.A bill submitted by the Jefferson County Merit Commission was denied, pending the proof of a quorum and minutes from previous meetings.During the Technology Committee meeting, Claire Poegman of Arthur Agency provided members with an update on the county's web site. It was decided cooperatively the web site will now be turned on for public consumption on June 1. County officials had expressed a desire earlier to have the new web site available by Monday. Training will be available to county officeholders in June to be followed by their own management of content, according to Dennis Poshard of the agency.