Commission clarifies budget questions

Friday, January 14, 2022

Stoddard County Presiding Commissioner Danny Talkington explained the reasons why the county’s projected expenses will be more than its projected revenue and how those expenses will be paid.

In the proposed budget released during the Jan. 3 commission meeting, the county estimated $23,410,906 in total expenses for 2022 and $18,516,080 in total revenue.

An article in Wednesday’s Dexter Statesman caused some confusion among county residents about how those expenses will be paid and what those expenses are.

“We’re not dipping into the general fund,” Talkington said. “We’re not spending more than we’re taking in.”

Talkington said the additional $4,894,826 in expenses will be used for those who qualified for American Recovery Plan Act funds, the continued construction of the new county jail and the refurbishment of the old jail and each county office’s discretionary funds.

“We expect the jail to be completed in 2022,” Talkington said. “All of the money we carried over will be applied to the (new) jail, refurbishing the old jail and finishing it (the whole project) up.”

A half-cent sales tax passed by county voters pays for the jail construction. Those funds may only be used for that project. The county has a $1,864,153.27 carryover balance for jail construction.

The county has $2,696,373.99 in unspent APRA funds from 2021. The county has spent $130,223 of its APRA funds. The county will receive the remainder of its $5,637,766 in APRA funds this year.

The remaining ARPA money will be used on projects such as installing a water/sewer system for future development of property near the U.S. Highway 60-Missouri State Highway 25 interchange ($800,000) and fiber-optic internet service to the western portion of the county ($1 million).  These projects will not be funded until the construction gets underway.

Pay raises

While the proposed budget indicated Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver received a raise, he did not, according to Talkington. 

Talkington said the state determines the salary for prosecuting attorneys and announces those figures during the middle of the year. 

“We don’t know what (that raise) will be,” said Talkington, who added that the figures in the budget are estimates. While the state sets the salary, the budget must account for the salary because it must pay it, he said.

The county’s elected officials weren’t the only county employees who received a raise. All county employees — except the prosecuting attorney —  received a 10% cost-of-living raise.

A public hearing concerning the budget will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Stoddard County Government Building.

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