Highway Department budget back on table

Published 7:24 am Saturday, June 6, 2015

When members of the Carter County Commission’s Budget Committee meet Monday evening, they once again will look over the proposed budget for the Carter County Highway Department.
During a meeting May 28, the committee voted to send the proposed budget back to Road Superintendent Roger Colbaugh for a second time to be reworked because the budget was out of balance.
When Colbaugh initially presented the budget, it was out of balance by $786,000, which means the expenditures totaled more than the incoming revenue. In order to balance the proposed budget, the county would have to either allocate additional funding to the Highway Department or direct Colbaugh to take the additional money out of the department’s fund balance.
“If we leave it like it is, it is going to be a bad situation at the Highway Department,” County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach told members of the committee during a May 21 budget workshop when the proposed budget was presented.
At that workshop, committee members directed Deloach to take the proposed budget back to Colbaugh and ask him to bring it into balance.
Colbaugh brought his budget back to the committee on May 28 and while he had reduced expenses the budget was still out of balance by more than $632,000.
“I’m asking for 8 cents more on the tax rate so we don’t have to take money from our emergency fund,” Colbaugh said at the May 28 meeting. “I don’t want to get into reserves unless we just have to.”
Deloach noted that while the proposed budget is still out of balance, it is a reduction from the 2014-15 fiscal year proposed budget, which was out of balance by more than $821,000.
In years past, rather than increase funding for the Highway Department, the County Commission allowed the previous Road Superintendant Jack Perkins to take money out of the department’s fund balance to cover operating expenses, Deloach said, adding this created a problem with the department’s funding and depleted the emergency fund balance.
“I know for a fact he can’t take that hit to his fund balance,” Deloach said of the amount the proposed budget is still out of balance.
When the committee asked Colbaugh to once again look at balancing his budget, he warned members the only way to do so would be to cut services or let employees go.
Members of the committee asked Colbaugh to bring his budget back to the group during their meeting on Monday.
After the committee approves the Highway Department budget, the county’s budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year will be ready for a public hearing. During the committee meeting on May 29 members approved all of the remaining portions of the budget and voted to keep the property tax rate at $2.45 for the coming fiscal year.

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