Polk begins work on draft 2015-2016 budget

Published 10:00 pm Monday, March 9, 2015

The Polk County Board of Commissioners and department heads have begun work on the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget, which begins July 1.

Commissioners met Feb. 23 and approved the budget calendar, including budget work session dates, with the motion to approve the calendar being approved by a 4-1 vote.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said he wouldn’t vote for the calendar because he would like to give county manager Marche Pittman the opportunity to present a balanced budget to commissioners. For the past two years, commissioners have worked on the budget line item by line item and balanced the budget as a board instead of working from a recommended manager budget. Pittman was hired as the county’s interim manager in 2012 and hired as the county’s permanent manager in 2014.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I do not plan to vote for this calendar the way it is,” Gasperson said. “I’d like to give Pittman the opportunity he hasn’t had in the past two years and that is to prepare a budget and present it to us.”

Gasperson asked Pittman if he is prepared to present a budget. Pittman said he is certainly prepared but will do as the board wishes.

Gasperson said typically a manager will prepare a balanced budget and commissioners take it from there. He called the board’s way, “micromanaging.” Gasperson also asked finance director Sandra Hughes how often she has seen calendars like the county has done in the past two years. Hughes answered the manager typically presents a balanced budget.

“I propose we go back to that process,” Gasperson said. “This is an oddity. Marche is the county manager, he has county manager pay and I think we ought to give him that opportunity.”

Commissioner Michael Gage said when the new board came in and did the budget the way they did commissioners got to know the department heads a little better.

“Last year we ended up with over 40 percent fund balance and I think that’s a reflection of how we’re doing this and we need to stay with it.”

Other commissioners agreed with Gage and approved the budget calendar.

The calendar includes county department heads preparing budget requests between Feb. 17-March 13; outside agencies submitting original budget requests on April 1 and final requests on May 1; the county manger reviewing requests and meeting with department heads April 1-May 8; commissioner work sessions with department heads on May 19 and May 19 at 3 p.m.; the manager presenting a balanced budget to commissioners during a special meeting on May 29 at 8 a.m.; a public hearing on the budget on June 1 at 7 p.m. and commissioners scheduled to adopt the budget ordinance and tax levy on June 15.