By THOMAS P. WEAVER
CELINA-The Clay County Commission will vote on the proposed $16.2 million 2014-2015 county budget here at the government complex at 6:30 p.m. next Monday, August 11–a spending plan with raw numbers showing expenditures increasing over $1.3 million from last year’s estimated number.
The lion’s share of that increase is reflected in the general purpose school fund where estimated numbers rose nearly $1 million. Estimated 2014-15 numbers showed school expenditures could reach nearly $9,233,780–well up from the 2013-14 estimated number of $8,303,352.
Director of schools Jerry Strong explained the estimated increase was just that–an estimate.
“The proposed budget looks like a big increase from last year, but if you go back and look at last year’s estimate it is very similar to this one,” he said. “We are required to build in a percentage above what we expect to spend, but we should end up at about the same.”
Before the 2013-14 budget was approved, the proposed estimated numbers for the general school fund published in the HORIZON did show the school fund’s expenditures at $9.1 million, but those numbers only reached $8.3 million–reflecting close to the $1 million dollar increase shown on this year’s proposed school budget.
“We are not asking for any additional funding,” Strong said. “Our proposed budget is about the same as it has been for some time.”
General fund numbers are also expected to rise, but not as drastically as the school fund. Those numbers show an estimated $378,312 increase–some of which county mayor Dale Reagan said could be attributed to grant funding carrying over from last year.
“Much of the new EOC (emergency operations center) building grant funding is still reflected in the new budget,” he explained. “With the project not yet complete, that money has to be carried over and shown as an expense.”
One decrease in spending is expected to be seen in the debt service fund. There $332,751 was paid out last year, while only $83,700 is projected to be spent in this proposed budget.
“Last year we paid an extra $300,000 on the debt and this year we budgeted and extra $50,000,” Reagan explained.
The remaining departments also showed increases, including the sanitation fund (+$125k) and the highway public works fund (+$130K), but Reagan explained all department heads had done an “absolutely good job” remaining within their budgets over the last few years.
“We’ve got good people in every department who pride themselves in staying away from reckless spending,” Reagan said. “That’s why they always come in under or within their budgets every year.”
Despite some increases in the proposed budget, Reagan explained the property tax rate would remain unchanged at $3.10, with a breakdown of:
• $1.51–general fund,
• $1.13–general purpose school fund,
• 38 cents–sanitation fund, and
• 8 cents–debt service fund.
The tax rate of $3.10 is figured on every $100 of assessed property value.
Commissioners were also set to vote on the tax levy Monday night.