The Jasper County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $38.9 million budget Tuesday for the 2019-20 fiscal year. This is a $4.8 million increase in expenditures over last year’s balance sheet, with nearly half of the new spending coming in capital projects.
In a related vote, with no discussion, the supervisors approved 3 percent raises for the bulk of county employees and elected officials 3-0.
The supervisors kept their own pay flat at $42,019 per year but approved the county compensation board’s recommendation to increase the salaries of all other county elected officials, department heads and union and non-union part-time employees by 3 percent. The compensation board made its recommendation following its December 2018 meeting.
The 2019-20 salaries for elected officials will be:
• County attorney — $122,593.
• Auditor — $76,546
• Recorder — $76,546
• Sheriff — $112,928
• Treasurer — $76,546
The budget also included a 10.9 percent increase in spending on mental health services to $930,425 and $2.3 million in spending, a 9.98 percent increase, on physical health and social services.
According to Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott, the increases in capital projects is largely in anticipation of major corrective work on the County Annex Building or a move out of the building entirely. Final plans for the project have not been determined.
The county’s tax levy rates will remain the same for the fourth consecutive year, approximately $8.25 per $1,000 of taxable valuation for properties in the city and approximately $11.63 per $1,000 of taxable value in rural Jasper County.
The board will also reallocate more funding to the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office in 2019-20 to hire another deputy.
Parrott, a Democrat, said the county has approximately $130 million in debt capacity and is currently using $6.9 million. The auditor praised the all-Republican board, stating the low debt while still taking on projects and maintaining a constant levy rate is “good fiscal management.”
“Even though the supervisors have taken on a number of projects from tuck pointing (the courthouse) to fixing the (courthouse) clock — a number of things over the last three years — we’ve been able to lower our debt service. ... We’ve been able to get projects done, hold the levy generally the same and, yet, lessen our debt,” Parrott said.
County engineer Russ Stutt, who received permission from the supervisors Tuesday to purchase an additional $702,320 to $982,248 of rock in the current budget year to service county’s rural gravel roads, also thanked the board for being supportive.
“The boards have been really supportive of us, trying to increase our rock budget and trying to look at the problems we have,” Stutt said.
Board vice chair Doug Cupples said this year’s budgeting process was not easy to put together, but find the additional money for public safety and rural roads was a priority.
“We’re able to add $300,000 more rock to our gravel roads (for 2019-20). Obviously, this year being the year it is (with the winter weather) it’s been a tough year,” Cupples said. “We’ve made some adjustments to correct and make sure those things are available. I feel pretty good about this budget.”
Parrott also said part of the increase in expenditures is simply costs rising.
“The unfortunate thing, but it’s just the way life is, cost of living is up 2.8 to 2.9 (percent). Well, just like individuals, the government has to pay more money for things as well.”
The budget will go into effect on July 1.
Contact Mike Mendenhall at 641-792-3121 Ext. 6530 or email@example.com