Cole County budget expects $2M bump in revenue

The first draft of Cole County’s 2014 budget shows an expected revenue increase of more than $2 million.

County Auditor Jim LePage on Wednesday presented his budget to the County Commission.

There’s $61.4 million in revenue for expenditures for 2014, compared with $59 million in 2013.

Most of the increase is because of projected growth in licenses, fees and permits, going from $9 million in 2013 to $11 million in 2014.

While revenue from grants is anticipated to decrease, taxes are projected to remain about the same in 2014 as in 2013, around $25.5 million.

Almost two-thirds, 62 percent, of the county’s revenue will come from some type of sales tax.

The projected gain in use tax and other taxes, about 12 percent combined, will help offset the projected drop in property taxes of about $300,000.

For 2014, the road and bridge department looks to get $11.6 million from the half-cent capital improvements sales tax. The sheriff’s department expects to get $12.1 million from the half-cent law enforcement sales tax, and the ambulance service will get $7.2 million from the half-cent emergency services sales tax.

Total expenditures for 2014 would go up about $1.8 million from last year, going from $45 to $46.8 million.

The costs of personnel services is projected to increase about $500,000 in 2014 to $18 million instead of $17.5 million in 2013. That’s 27 percent of total operating expenses.

There is $17 million in the budget for infrastructure projects and almost $14 million for public safety/law enforcement activities.

LePage did put in a 3 percent raise for all employees given as a combination of a cost-of-living adjustment and a merit/longevity component.

He also has the county continuing coverage of health and dental insurance, which are projected to increase by about 30 percent in 2014.

The commission has scheduled budget hearings with department heads next week before they go through the budget themselves.

Commissioners must adopt the budget by Jan. 10.

In other business Wednesday, commissioners approved a bid with Emergency Service Supply, Osage Ambulances in Linn, to purchase two new ambulances for a price of $128,980.

It was not the lowest bid, which was turned in by Taylor Made Ambulances out of Arkansas at $113,614. Ambulance Director Mike Shirts said they had concerns of quality with the Taylor Made product, and the service has dealt with Osage many times in the past with no problems.

Commissioners pointed out this completes their promise made five years ago when the county took over the ambulance service that the fleet of 10 ambulances would be replaced.

The commission also approved an amendment to its 911 agreement with Jefferson City, which says the service will be able to provide the county ambulance service and sheriff’s department the ability to use their MOSWIN communications service. Earlier this year Sheriff Greg White had raised concerns that if the 911 center went down, his department would not be able to use this service, which allows public safety agencies in Missouri to communicate across jurisdictional lines. The city now says it has more radios that allow them to do this. The mobile operations center and the new west office for the Police Department, which will be housed in the new Fire Station 3 off of North Missouri 179, will have this capability.

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