County commissioners approved a $23.3 million budget for 2015 Monday, increasing budget authority while holding the line on taxes as a result of increased property valuations.
Proposed departmental budgets were scrutinized at several prior meetings, but commissioner Randy Dallke wanted answers to some questions before the vote was cast.
Dallke wanted to clarify county funding for Families and Communities Together (FACT) that was removed from the health department budget by director Diedre Serene.
“She did not budget for us to donate to that,” Dallke said. “I know we can dig it up out of other places.”
“There’s plenty of room for that in the health fund,” certified public accountant Scot Loyd said.
“Yeah, but that’s not the way the health director sees it,” Dallke said.
“There’s plenty of cash in there,” Loyd said.
Commissioner Dan Holub explained Serene’s intent to free the $6,000 allocation to FACT for other department priorities, as well as her desire that for 2015 the allocation come from the general fund.
“If you have the levy set, that you can’t change, but total expenditures are all you’re looking at. If those departments within there had certain things that need to be moved within that, you can do that,” Loyd said.
Dallke then raised a concern about pay raises for department heads.
“Some department heads budgeted a raise for themselves,” Dallke said.
“If we go ahead and approve the budget, I don’t want my department heads to think they’ve got an automatic raise.”
“That’s a discussion we haven’t had yet,” Holub said.
Loyd said passing the budget only provided room for raises if commissioners decided to grant them at a later date.
Holub and Dallke voted to approve the budget. Commission chair Roger Fleming was absent.
The budget sets the maximum legal limit for county expenditures, but in recent years actual expenditures haven’t reached the limit. The 2013 budget approved a ceiling of $18.2 million for net expenditures, but actual net expenses were $11.4 million.
The 2014 budget for Marion County Park and Lake was changed from $245,513 to $319,108 to reflect the purchase of a tractor and current figures not available when the original budget was passed.
County Clerk Tina Spencer also told commissioners that interviews with four candidates for the emergency medical services director position are scheduled for early September.