Marion County Board approves balanced budget

Marion County Board approves balanced budget

The Marion County Board Monday night approved its budget for the fiscal year that begins December 1st. The $9.4-million budget still contains a surplus, but it was cut to just $102,000 after $255,000 was added back in for capital improvements and a lower estimate in the growth of assessed valuation.

Finance Committee Chair Dr. Creighton Engel says this is the first time in years the budget is in the black and he’s pleased with the vast improvement. This is the first year the county has used Bellweather to prepare the budget and more accurately project revenue and expenses.

The approval came after Board Chair Debbie Smith warned tougher times may lie ahead because of the state’s deteriorating financial condition.

“It’s very critical that we watch our dollars and I know the elected officials that we have here are very conscious and have been ever since I’ve been here 8 years. But I just wanted to let you know, that I was surprised at the fact that they are 9 billion dollars behind in payments. So if they’re 9 billion dollars behind in payments, that’s trickling down to the counties not getting their money and other vendors as well. So it’s going to have an impact on everyone.”

Smith says with the Democrats in full control of the legislature, the county officials association expects tax and fee increases to be passed as well to try and help shore up the state’s finances following the loss of the graduated income tax on the November ballot.

After a lengthy discussion, the board voted to switch their health insurance to Chaney and Karsh. Their bid was $13,700 lower. The decision came after a similar proposal from Dimond Brothers Insurance was rejected after agent Tom Champion made an impassioned plea that he could obtain the same prices and had been working with the county board through troubled times in the past.

Smith says with the competitive bidding and other companies being interested in the county’s business, they will be able to keep the cost increase for health insurance to employees at a very small increase.

The board was told the Laborers Union had accepted a contract proposal, but the paperwork was not yet done. It will be voted on at the next meeting.

The board will rebid the purchase of a new vehicle for animal control because the specifications did not indicate they wanted a four-wheel-drive vehicle.