Commissioner Pack explains his Polk budget proposal

Published 11:15 am Thursday, May 26, 2011

Editor’s note: Following is a narrative provided by Polk County Commissioner Tom Pack explaining the budget proposal he submitted to commissioners on Monday, 16, 2011.
Let me say that going into the budget process I was aware Polk County does not have a revenue problem. Polk County has a problem of spending and prioritization. I begin to address these issues in my proposed changes to the budget. I could go much farther in cuts but I want to get the other commissioners over the fear of that we are tight on money.
Page 1 contains the reductions that I see that can easily be made. It will delay a couple of projects but will not be detrimental to Polk County. These can easily be included in the next budget as the budget we are working on contains $400,000 worth of one-time expenditures.
Page 2 contains increases to the budget that I feel are necessary to be fair with the employees. Historically, Polk County government employees’ salaries have been lower than the private sector in most cases. The lower salary has been offset with better benefits such as medical insurance. In the manager’s proposed budget, the deductible for the employees insurance would increase by $1,000 for an individual. I did not believe this to be fair as most of their salaries are lower than comparable jobs in the private sector. The county employees have not seen an increase in salary for the last three years.
I also tried to start correcting what I feel are inconsistencies in pay for some county employees. You will see small salary increases in the sheriff, jail and communication salary lines. This increases the salaries of some in these departments that were making less than the person that cleans the Womack Building. I don’t think people realized that some of the Detention Officers in the jail or the people that work in Communications were making less than the person that does the cleaning of the Womack Building. I think the justification is easily seen for these changes when you look at the duties these people perform.
Page 3 contains the capital expenditures listed in the proposed manager’s budget. I have not made any changes here but some could be delayed to save more but I don’t think I would get the support for further reductions.
Page 4 starts by showing the excess revenue ($1,426,281) that the county brought in during the 2009 – 2010 budget period before commissioners decided to amend the budget and spend more than was proposed when the budget was initially adopted. These increases in spending are called budget amendments that pull monies from fund balance.
I believe that capital expenditures should be tied to the excess revenue from the prior budget. I believe no more than 60 percent ($855,768.60) of the prior year excess revenue should go to normal capital expenditures. The remaining 40 percent ($570,512.40) should increase the un-appropriated fund balance for future large capital expenditures that are well planned in a future needs forecast such as new buildings, etc…. The proposed manager’s budget does not adhere to this, so the $555,324 of capital expenditures from page 3 for this year’s budget comes from revenues, not un-appropriated fund balance. I did not propose changing this but believe it should be instituted next budget. I simply showed how the numbers would look if we did adhere to this in the manager’s proposed budget.
So, with this being said, the county received $1,426,281 in excess revenues last budget year and $1,593,744 the year before that. If you look back this has been the case since 2005. I believe that we are overcharging the taxpayers and that is why I show giving the taxpayers a $300,444.60 tax cut. Some will argue that I am pulling some ($244,797.60) of this out of fund balance. I am doing this due to the fact that we are not pulling capital expenditures in the budget from fund balance so we need to return some of the excess revenue to the taxpayer. I believe that we should be able to give another tax cut next year if we as commissioners don’t try to spend every dime the county receives in revenues whether budgeted or excess.

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