Budget subject of special Oneida County board meeting
The Oneida County board held a special meeting Tuesday, Sept. 3 to take an early look at how the 2014 budget is taking shape.
Margie Sorenson, the county’s financial director, explained that although many department budgets have not been submitted yet, there are already several large monetary decreases that will occur this year. Several of those include a $63,000 decrease in clerk of court revenues; a $150,000 decrease in interest earnings; and a $250,000 decrease in stumpage sales. Some anticipated increases in expenses include the county contributing more to retirement for employees and health insurance increases.
Most county department heads sat through the three hour meeting with several coming to the podium to explain the increases to their budgets. Lu Ann Brunette, building and grounds director, was one of those employees. She explained her request for $67,000 for operating and recurring expenses within the department. She also explained several other projects that could cost the county up to $470,000 in added expenses. Those include paving to increase parking area at the Oneida County Department on Aging facility; up to $120,000 for a new boiler system within the courthouse; $150,000 for a new HVAC system at the Oneida County Department on Aging facility in addition to $50,000-$100,000 to fix a water seepage problem in the elevator pit there; and $75,000-$100,000 to renovate the land and water conservation department.
Freeman Bennet, Oneida County highway commissioner also gave a report. He explained about the process of getting funds to pave roads every year. He also explained the large increase in expenditures last year due to the prolonged winter weather the county experienced through the 2012-2013 season. One big expense was for road salt which increased from $32 per ton in 2009 to more than $64 per ton last year mainly due to gas prices rising.
Oneida County Sheriff Grady Hartman also explained a $230,385 increase in his budget for this year. Those items included $20,000 for a truancy program; $110,000 to replace master control switches at the jail as a security measure; $90,000 for technology to detect computer crimes; and almost $10,000 for recreational patrol programs.
The board also discussed ways to try and keep the tax levy the same or less. Supervisor Jerry Shidell even made a motion to make county employees contribute 1.5 per cent more to their retirement and health accounts. “They shouldn’t get a dime in pay raises either,” he said. “This is reasonable considering what the private sector has been going through.” He even made a motion to that effect. Instead the board voted to refer the matter back to the Labor Relations committee.
Department heads will be coming before the administration committee in early to mid-October with their budgets. The yearly budget is adopted in November.