Clay County proposes $17.7 million 2017-2018 budget

The proposed 2017-2018 Clay County budget shows the estimated fiscal spending plan includes expenditures totaling $17,724,570 — which is down over $450,000 from last year’s estimated number of $18,185,664. (see the published version below)
Besides the upcoming fiscal year’s proposed numbers and the estimated 2016-2017 tally, the information also details the actual 2015-2016 budget-total of $15,336,333.
The proposed budget is expected to go in front of the county commission for a vote in the coming weeks—more than likely on August 14 after a vote the Monday before (August 7), to fill the vacated fifth district county commission seat left open by Billy “Cornbread” Maxwell’s resignation.
After a vote is taken on filling the seat, commissioners are expected to recess for a week, before taking up the budget vote the following Monday, according to the county mayor’s office.
The budget is very similar to last year’s, with the exception of the highway/public works fund—where a decrease in estimated expenditures totaling $1,057,441 is shown.
That amount helps the overall expenditures of the county look as though they have dropped significantly, but, according to county road superintendent Jason Browning, the majority of that decrease is due to a one-time influx of bridgework money given to the county last year—an amount which is not reflected in the upcoming year’s highway department budget.
In 2016-2017, when the bridge funding was available, Browning estimated his department would spend $3,204,835—but without the additional funding in the upcoming year, that number has dropped to $2,147,394.
Unlike the highway department fund, the other four departments show increases in the proposed budget.
As always, the general purpose school fund makes up nearly two-thirds of the proposed total at just under $10 million, and shows an overall increase in estimated expenditures of $343,813. Last year’s number of $9,654,519 is estimated to rise to $9,998,332.
Clay County Schools finance director Ashley White explained the majority of the increase was from a salary increase—which was partially mandated by the state, and an expected hike in insurance premiums.
According to White, the state mandated nearly $125,000 in teacher raises and the school board voted to expand the 2.5% salary increase across the board, creating a total of over $160,000 in added personnel cost. She also explained the schools director’s office expects insurance cost to balloon by 15%.
The other three departments estimated to spend more money include debt service, sanitation, and the general fund—but in this budget, they all three affected each other, according to county finance clerk Donna Hamilton.
She explained both the debt service (+$125,755) and sanitation (+$73,739) increases were mostly due to transfers from those departments’ fund balances to the general fund—a move made a week ago by the county commission under the advise of the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) to cover a revenue shortfall in the general fund.
With the estimated fund balance in the general fund dipping to low levels, Hamilton said commissioners voted to transfer $400,000 from sanitation and $100,000 from debt service to make up for the shortfall and leave $416,528 as the number for next year’s estimated fund balance.
She explained declining revenues, paired with higher expenditures—including recent elected officials’ raises and increases in costs of outsourcing inmates, caused the lion’s share of the shortfall.
With the moves from other departments, the general fund shows over a $53,000 increase in estimated expenditures—up to $4,859,864 from last year’s $4,806,824.
“CTAS always advises us to estimate high on expenditures and low on revenue,” Hamilton said. “You must remember this is a proposed budget and you always hope you don’t spend as much as you estimate.”
See a future HORIZON newspaper for more details.
Clay County, TN proposed 2017-2018 Budget