Chuck Ruben began a discussion of the county finances by making a
motion to put the potential new fiscal year budget on the agenda for
the reconvened board meeting Tuesday. The county board was presented
with two plans for the 2013 budget. According to Ruben, the
difference between the two plans, Plan A and Plan B, is if the bonds
would happen. Plan A contains the potential bonds in the criminal
court cases line item. Plan B does not contain the bonds.
was created in case the bonds will not be approved in time, if at
all. Plan B would also not contain a contingency fund for future
criminal cases. The downside of the backup budget is that in order
to pay for the criminal cases line item, $600,000 would have to be
transferred from other places in the budget.
In this instance, the money would be gathered by severely cutting
the property tax levies to the health department, ambulance
services, senior citizens services and Cooperative Extension.
Due to the drastic differences between the two plans, neither
will be displayed until after the due date for a petition has
passed. The due date is Oct. 25. If a petition with 1,453 signatures
of registered voters is brought to the county by that date, the
board will have to bring the bond issue to the next referendum if
they wish to sell the bonds.
"We'll be continuing Tuesday night's meeting to the 25th. At that
point, we'll be able to put one or the other budget on display. I
don't think it's fair to put one budget on display and amend it off
display; that would be a huge amendment," said Ruben.
Normally, amendments are made during the 30-day display window,
but the amendments are usually just corrections or small changes. A
change from Plan A to Plan B would be too big a change in that time
frame for the board to be comfortable with.
On Oct. 25, the board will make a decision as to which budget to
display to the public for 30 days. There will also be a special
meeting in November to approve the displayed budget, including
On the topic of finances, Ruben commented that he had recently
explained property taxes to some citizens of Logan County. He said
that a lot of people have the opinion that county money is mainly
property taxes. However, property taxes would make up only 18
percent of the county's budget in Plan A of the proposed new budget.
"Where it (property taxes) goes is just a tremendous number of
different things," Ruben said.
He also recommended a change to Plan A. Previously, the finance
committee intended to sell bonds in the amount of $1 million. After
reconsidering their options, Ruben believes that $700,000 may be a
more appropriate figure to try for. This would also cut the amount
left over for a contingency fund down to $100,000, instead of the
These figures work under the assumption that $600,000 will be
needed to pay for major criminal court cases in the next year.
Furthermore, should more money be needed, alternative revenue bonds
can be sold under the county's authority for three years after they
are initially issued.
Should bonds be sold in the amount of $1 million, yearly payments
from the county would be $86,600 per year for 20 years, which
includes a projected interest rate of 4.5 percent. If only $700,000
was needed, the payback rate would be $60,200 (again, with interest
Should the interest rate change, these figures will be subject to
change as well. Ruben said it all depends on what the market looks
like when they are sold.
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The other topic for discussion concerning county finances was a 2
percent increase figured in under the payroll line item for nonunion
employees. Both plans include this adjustment. The figures work out
to between $13,000 and $15,000 per percentage point.
Ruben clarified that this money will be distributed to
officeholders in charge of payroll in their respective organizations
and is at their discretion. It is not a straight 2 percent raise to
all nonunion employees.
Ruben said he does not want to take the manager's abilities to
manage their payroll away. "You could have an employee that deserves
a 4 percent raise, and you could have an employee that deserves no
raise," he said.
Board member Andy Anderson said he wanted to see a way to
guarantee that the 2 percent adjustment goes to employee raises. "We
voted to give them a 2 percent raise," said Anderson.
Ruben replied, "We voted in finance to include an increase to the
salary line item in their budgets by 2 percent."
Last year, the county approved a flat 2 percent raise to all
nonunion employees but then decreased the total budget of the
agencies involved by 3 percent. This created situations where an
agency would have better-paid workers, but their financial ability
in other areas began to suffer.
"Therefore, they have to have the discretion," said Ruben.
On a slightly positive note, Ruben reported that both potential
budgets are balanced -- just barely.
"We take in revenues of $6 million, and we have a fund balance of
$8,000 at the end of the year," he said.
Furthermore, if a referendum petition is successful, the board
still has the authority to decide if the bonds will become part of
the spring election.
Originally, Ruben supported the idea of not putting the bonds up
for a vote, but after some time to think, he changed his mind.
"If we put it on the ballot and it would pass in the March
elections, then we probably would be able to get the money in April.
At that time, we could restore the funding to the outside agencies.
They're not used to getting their money until the property taxes
come in, in July and September anyway. Our intention would be to put
it on the ballot and pass it," he said.
The same redistribution of funds could occur if enough time
passes in the fiscal year and the board feels that the criminal
court cases line item has an excess remaining.
After all of the discussion concerning the budget was finished,
the original motion was passed by the board 9-1.
Board members present for the meeting were chairman David Hepler,
Robert Farmer, Andy Anderson, Rick Aylesworth, Kevin Bateman, Bill
Martin, Pat O'Neill, Gene Rohlfs, Chuck Ruben, Andy Meister and Jan
[By DEREK HURLEY]