Polk County approves new fiscal year 2017-2018 budget

Published 2:00 pm Friday, June 23, 2017

COLUMBUS – Polk Commissioners unanimously adopted the fiscal year 2017-2018 budget during its June 20 meeting with a revenue neutral tax rate.

Commissioners thanked staff for doing a revenue neutral budget as opposed to a revenue neutral tax with growth rate and the previously assumed two-cent tax increase to pay for the debt service on the new jail currently under construction.

Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said the county will take in the same amount of revenue next year from property taxes as it received this year with a tax rate of 52.94 cents per $100 of property valuation. The county’s current tax rate is 53.75 cents.

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Commissioner Ray Gasperson said one of the comments he hears from the public is some residents think the county is taking in vast amounts of money as a whole, “and we are not.”

Pittman said that was the piece that made the budget so challenging for staff. The county has additional debt and needs that have to be met next year and the county is going to bring in the same amount of tax revenue as the current year.

“That’s why it took four months (to prepare),” said Pittman.

The county’s budget is for a total of $28,848,595.

The adopted budget includes using $546,676 worth of fund balance, or reserves, to pay for one-time capital expenses.

Major capital expenses next year include $201,740 for the sheriff’s office new vehicles and capital needs; $134,000 for two new vans for the transportation department, of which the state will reimburse all but $13,702; $89,000 for the recreation department for lights at Searcy Field; $50,000 for solid waste to purchase recycling bins, an overhead building and grading work at the old Little Mountain Landfill; $90,446 for the jail to purchase a van, handheld radios and Tasers for the new jail facility; $36,000 for animal control to purchase a truck cab and chassis to replace the existing truck; $34,924 for the department of social services (DSS) to purchase a vehicle, computers, printers, tablets and scanners (the county will be reimbursed all but $15,716); $30,736 for building inspections to purchase a new vehicle for the new inspector; $25,984 for EMS that includes the purchase of a quick response vehicle; $18,290 for MIS to upgrade servers and equipment and $10,000 for a replacement utility cart at the recreation complex.

The county also plans to reserve $250,000 for future repairs to the Turner Shoals Dam at Lake Adger.

Personnel changes will include the new sheriff’s office filling 12 new jail positions beginning halfway through the new fiscal year.

Polk County EMS will also hire an additional position, which would give the county 24/7 coverage with two EMTs per truck.

The current part-time tourism director position will go to full-time next year.

County employees will receive a merit-based, one-time payment incentive, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

All six county fire departments will remain at revenue neutral tax rates.

The new budget year will begin July 1.