Squires to vote on budget, tax hike Monday

Since the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the countys budget has grown by almost $3 million according to documents contained within this years budget. Maynard explained the 09-10 actual expenditures in the General Fund amounted to $36,832,842.

In 2010-2011, the countys actual General Fund expenditures totaled $36,776,148 and that number grew to $39,013,561 in 2011-2012. Maynard said they dont expect to spend all of the $39,250,383 projected expenditures this year.

Usually departments turn some money back to us, so we probably wont spend that entire amount, he said.

At the same time, revenues fell sharply in 2011-2012 compared to the two previous years. In 2010-2011, Maynard said revenues were $38,496,114 when expenditures were $36.7 million.

Last year, revenues fell to $36,835,818.

This year, Maynard projected the county would receive $39,398,287.

Maynard noted the county made adjustments to employee healthcare that saved $1.5 million annually. By making those changes, Maynard said the employees health insurance costs increased as a result because the county was paying less of their cost.

We cut benefits for an annual savings of $1.5 million, Maynard said.

However, at the same time, Maynard said the majority of the countys budget increase from 2010-2011 was a one-time bonus for county employees. A 6 percent bonus for employees amounted to $1.2 million.

Also, in addition to that, was a bonus to non-teaching personnel in the Wilson County School System for another $1.2 million.

This years budget includes a 4 percent raise to employees, the first since 1995, Maynard noted, which equals 3.91 cents of the 22-cent tax increase.

The largest expenditures in the county General Fund include $8.9 million for the Wilson County Sheriffs Department, $6.7 million for the County Jail and $5.89 million for the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency.

Maynard also pointed out the countys fire services budget is separated from the WEMA allocations in General Fund. The county Fire Service fund is budgeted at $2,362,275.

We split fire services off last year because of the ongoing issue with Mt. Juliet fire coverage, he said.

Also, Maynard said no property taxes are used to fund fire services due to court rulings in a lawsuit the county lost in the 1990s that said if the county was to use property taxes to fund fire services, they must have fire tax districts.

We did that for a couple of years and did away with it, he said. Now we use whats called state-shared revenues. Its already been shared with cities or its other taxes and fees generated within the county.

Outside of the General Fund, the county is spending $109,726,708 million in the General School Purpose Fund, which is to fund the budget of the county school system.

The county also has $12,503,558 budgeted in the General Debt Service Fund with $5,295,558 of that amount being interest. There is also $2,912,092 in the Rural Debt Service Fund. Both funds go towards education projects.

The Highway/Public Works Fund also has a budget of $8,247,769 for the upcoming fiscal year.

Measure to require 2/3 approval to spend fund balance below $2M

Another measure on Mondays agenda is a resolution that would require two-thirds of the commission to approve expenditures from the General Fund that would cause that fund balance to drop below $2 million.

During meetings of the commissions Budget Committee, Maynard suggested a future policy that would require 17 of the 25 commissioners to agree on an expenditure that would lower the General Fund Balance below $2 million.

The Budget Committee approved such a measure and Maynard hopes to increase the minimum fund balance with future resolutions, getting to a safe level of $6 million.

Current projections in the 2012-2013 budget include the proposed 22-cent tax increase and show a General Fund Balance of $2,250,959. Maynard said it would be a best practice for the county to have at least $6 million in its General Fund to cover two months of operating costs in an emergency.

That number has the tax increase in it, he said referring to the projected balance. Without that increase, that number would be down to about $50,000.

Last years fund balance was $2,103,055.

Without the tax increase, Maynard said the General Fund could drop to a dangerous level that would prevent the county from being able to deal with any unforeseen costs. He used a large increase in fuel prices that could require additional money be given to departments.

If fuel goes to $5 a gallon for an example, and departments need more money for that, we cant go into deficit in (the) fund balance, he said.

Commission will meet on Monday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Commission Courtroom at the Wilson County Courthouse located at 228 E. Main Street in Lebanon. Prior to the meeting, commission will hold a public hearing at 6 in the same location.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.