County discusses shortfalls in departmental budgets
The new year hasn’t even started and some Leavenworth County departments are already short on money.
On Monday, the Board of County Commissioners discussed the need to adjust the 2008 budgets of some county departments by thousands of dollars and the need to transfer funds from the 2008 general fund to the Leavenworth County Health Department and the Juvenile Detention Center, which soon will run out of money.
Linda Scheer, county clerk, told the commissioners that the Juvenile Detention Center budget would need to be augmented by $60,000, the Health Department by $30,000 and emergency by $40,000. Additionally, the Health Department is looking at being short nearly $40,000 at the beginning of 2009 and the Juvenile Detention Center short by $110,000 at the same time.
Donna Martin, Health Department director, said the shortage came from paying out benefits to an employee who was part of the county’s reduction in force.
“Nothing seems to be terribly out of balance except for our paying out the $20,000 and also the uncertainly of the funds we’re getting,” Martin said.
Scheer agreed, but said even without that payout, the Health Department would have needed $18,000 in cash for January.
Heather Morgan, the county administrator, disagreed and didn’t want all of the blame to go to the budget cuts.
“Saying this is because of the RIF is shortsighted,” Morgan said. “There are a number of Health Department employees that have large payouts coming. These employees could have said they were retiring and this circumstance would have occurred.”
Scheer told the commission that past commissions had decided these types of payouts come from the general funds so departments aren’t raising their budgets by a few mills to cover something that may or may not happen.
“We did levy taxes one year on the Health Department for this reason and that person decided not to retire,” Scheer said. “That money was just sitting there.”
Commissioner Clyde Graeber said the commission needed to figure out a way to cover these eventualities and to address this, especially for new employees.
Commissioner J.C. Tellefson agreed.
“Every time we have this discussion we make a commitment and say we won’t do this for people in the future, but we continue to punt the ball a little bit farther down the field, and then three more people come in under the old system,” he said. “We have got to address this — we must address this.”
Some sewer districts also needed amendments to their budgets. Sewer District No. 1 needed an additional $3,000, while districts Nos. 2 and 6 needed $7,000 each.
Mike Spickelmier, Public Works director, said the reason to increase the budget authority was a result of increase in grinder pump maintenance.
Janet Klasinski, county clerk-elect, said the Juvenile Detention Center had enough cash on hand for now but was probably going to be $110,427 short before the first payouts in January.
She said there might be a possibility of finding grant money to reduce that amount, but some money may need to come out of the general fund.
The commission unanimously voted to amend the budgets but said it would meet Thursday to discuss what, if any, cash would go from the general fund to cover the Health Department and the Juvenile Detention Center.
In other business Monday, the commission:
• Approved $1,857 for appliances for the new EMS station. Dolsberry Appliances had the lowest cost for the appliances.
• Tabled a request to change solid waste disposal fees until the Solid Waste Committee can bring a recommendation to the commission.
• Unanimously approved the transfer of $16,500 from the Jail Capital Outlay Account to a reserve account while jail officials determine the best way to replace electronic panels used to open and close doors within the jail.