County has budget issues

The Fayette County Board chairman said on Monday that the county will be presenting a proposed budget that’s balanced to the public.
But, Steve Knebel said, “whatever we put before the public will change.”
That, Knebel said, is because “a couple of things have come up” since the proposed budget was drafted.
One of those “things” is notification that the county’s workers’ compensation coverage from Bliss McKnight will not be renewed, Knebel said.
And, when the county is able to find someone willing to provide that coverage, Bliss McKnight told him, “he told us to expect a substantial increase.”
“That will throw the budget out of whack,” Knebel said, explaining that the increase could be $20,000-$40,000.
“We’ve had a lot of claims, folks,” Knebel said, explaining the reason for the county’s situation with workers’ compensation.
“One of these days, we won’t be able to afford (it), and then it will come out of our own pocket,” he said.
Another factor in a final budget is pending agreements with unions that represent county employees.
“That could be another thing,” Knebel said.
He was pretty sure of one budget line item.
“There are no raises – that’s the way it’s going to be,” he said.
“Sorry, we can’t afford it,” Knebel said.
The county board’s goal, he said, “is to keep everybody employed.” But, he added, that could change, based on the variables that lie ahead.
“We’ll see what happens in the next month or so,” Knebel said.
The board chairman also said that the final numbers on the budget will be affected by how much the board wants to pay on the loan from the capital improvement fund to the general fund.
The board OK’d a $250,000 loan from the capital improvement fund during this fiscal year in order to make expenses, and they paid back $125,000 of that total, Knebel said.
Also, he said, the board made a $250,000 “permanent transfer” to the general fund, but later found out that that action was not legal. Therefore, that transfer must also be repaid.
Currently, the proposed budget calls for the county to be in the black by $540,000, Knebel said. Depending on how much of the loan the board wants to repay, that figure could drop as low as $163,000.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board – at the request of the Fayette County Farm Bureau – approved a resolution opposing the expansion of the federal definition of “Waters of the United States” to include non-navigable ditches and stormwater flowes in communities.
Ken Cripe, president of the Farm Bureau board, and Stephanie Kraus, the Farm Bureau manager, asked the board to support opposition of the proposed action, saying that it would harm county farmers in a number of ways.
Cripe said more restrictions are not needed, because, “We, as farmers, we keep our water clean.”
In other action, the board approved a contract with Double D Plumbing and Heating for replacement of the boiler system and water heater in the jail.
It also approved a contract with CivicPlus for creation of a new county website and maintenance of that website.
Also approved was a request from the Shoal Creek Chapter of ABATE for a poker run license.

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