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Greene County budget approved at $121M

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Despite an overall budget that grew 23 percent to $121.26 million, Greene County officials say the tough times are not over, and county employees will not see a raise for a third straight year.

Harold Bengsch, Greene County commissioner-1st district, said the increase was almost entirely attributed to the construction of the $19.75 million Public Safety Center under way near Campbell Avenue and Nichols Street. Bonds, grants and 911 sales tax dollars are funding the construction, Bengsch said, adding that the county’s projected 2011 general revenue is essentially flat.

Greene County Budget Officer Jeff Reinold said the general revenue fund increased slightly to $33.92 million from $32.6 million in fiscal 2010 due to a $1.85 million accounting change in the way the county addressed the law enforcement sales tax shortfall.

“The revenue (from the LEST) does not cover the expenses that were promised to voters back in 1997, which predates the entire commission, and it predates myself,” Reinold said. “The shortfall from that, which has averaged around $1.5 million per year, is transferred from the general fund.”

Last year, the transfer came from the county’s reserves instead of general revenue, Reinold said. The current reserves sit at $25.77 million.

The quarter-cent LEST generated $10.5 million for the 2011 budget. Springfield law enforcement will receive $6.3 million, 60 percent, of those funds.

County roads and bridges comprise $24.26 million of the 2011 budget, $3.8 million of which will go toward Weaver Road improvements, the largest road-and-bridge expenditure.

More than $42 million in the budget comes from dedicated funding sources such as the two separate parks sales taxes, which generated $16.69 million in 2010 for the Springfield-Greene County Parks Department. Those dedicated funds must be spent in the areas for which they are designed, according to Reinold. For example, revenue collected in the sewer district fund can’t be transferred to the general revenue fund.

The 2011 budget also includes the elimination of 27 vacant positions. Presiding commissioner Jim Viebrock, who took the post Jan. 1, said the moves amount to a $500,000 savings in general revenue.

During his successful campaign to upend veteran Presiding Commissioner Dave Coonrod, Viebrock pledged to eliminate a $108,000 county administrator position, which is currently filled by Tim Smith. His fellow commissioners, Bengsch and Roseann Bentley, however, voted to retain the administrator position, which serves as a liaison between the commissioners and the court system, the county’s departments and the public. Viebrock said Smith is hard-working and professional, but he still believes the title is not essential to county government.

“I’ve said all along that that’s a luxury position, and I have not moved off that point,” Viebrock said. “There’s no question in my mind that we can handle what Mr. Smith does.”

Five new positions are budgeted for the county’s payroll in 2011. Three are sheriff’s deputies, and two are in the Greene County Juvenile Office.

Bengsch said the sheriff’s positions were thought to be key because as part-time warrant officers, they would be collecting revenue.

Bengsch commended county employees for taking on new duties during the last three years, making the elimination of 32 positions possible.

“My hat goes off to the officeholders and department heads as well as the rank-and-file employees who have cooperated in putting this budget together,” he said. “This is the third year where there has been no raises for the employees and not filling vacancies, which is putting a heavy workload on those employees picking up the slack that has been left by those who used to do those jobs.”

The county currently employs 708 people.[[In-content Ad]]

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