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story.lead_photo.caption Flags flutter in strong winds Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, at the Cole County Courthouse in Jefferson City. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

The Cole County Commission on Tuesday got its first look at the proposed 2020 budget for the county, which would grow by more than $1.5 million compared to 2019.

The proposed 2020 budget from Auditor Kristen Berhorst would be $88.9 million, which includes money carried forward from 2019.

The budget approved by the commission for 2019 was $87.2 million.

Berhorst said the budget includes a 3 percent pay raise for all 315 full-time employees of the county. Part-time employees would not get raises.

The proposed budget would add four new deputies to the Cole County Sheriff's Department. Two would be road deputies, and two would work in the jail. Their starting salaries would be $37,000.

The proposed budget also would add one employee in the Emergency Medical Services department — a logistics officer, with a salary of $61,500.

Last year, the County Commission approved salary increases for the Sheriff's Department and EMS with new salary ranges. For all other county employees, there was a flat $520 cost-of-living adjustment.

Berhorst projects the county's three half-cent sales taxes (capital improvements, law enforcement and EMS) will collect a total of $19,547,667 by the end of 2019. She expects the same amount would be collected in 2020.

"Sales taxes are 42 percent of county revenue," Berhorst said. "We're not projecting any additional sales tax growth.

"I think, though, that the county is doing fairly well," she added. "Over the past few years, we haven't spent everything we've budgeted, so we have some pretty healthy reserves. In this year's budget we have about $1.5 million in general fund for capital projects."

Capital projects generally refer to improvement work to county-owned facilities.

One item commissioners have indicated needs to be addressed is a new phone system for the county, estimated to cost $350,000.

Another item commissioners want to discuss is what to do with the building and parking lot at 209 Adams St., which the county bought in May.

The County Commission bought the property for $465,000. The facility has been vacant since October 2018, when Missouri River Regional Library staff moved out of its offices because of mold in the building. The library leased the facility and parking lot from former owner Weldon Preservation, using it as an annex to the main library, which is across the street.

The cost to renovate the building has been estimated at $1.5 million.

The commission is still trying to determine where the county would put a fifth courtroom when a second associate circuit judge is added in 2021. They also have talked for several years about finding a place where the county assessor and collector could work in the same facility. (The assessor is currently in the Carnegie building across the street from 209 Adams St., and the collector is in the Courthouse Annex on High Street.)

Projects slated to be done by the county Public Works Department next year with half-cent capital improvement sales tax funds include: replacing Old Forge Road Bridge off Old Bass Road, south of Brazito, as well as the High Point Bridge over Gibler Creek. Engineering work on both projects has already taken place.

The bridges will be replaced using federal funds from the Off System Bridge Program for county bridges administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Construction costs for Old Forge and High Point have been estimated to be around $400,000, each.

Another project is a joint venture with Jefferson City to make improvements on East High Street. The county will pay $850,000 of the $1.7 million cost. This would rebuild the street and include new curbs, pavement, stormwater and sidewalk improvements, particularly around East Elementary School.

The second phase of Business 50 West improvements heading into St. Martins is another project that looks to be done in 2020.

The first phase of the project, completed in late 2014 for $4.3 million, rebuilt the road, added curbs and gutter, stormwater drainage and a sidewalk along the south side of the road from Country Club Drive west to past South Binder Lake and Babe Ruth drives.

The second phase will begin near Babe Ruth Drive, where the first phase ended in 2014. The work will continue on to Route T in St. Martins. Part of the road will be three lanes, and part of it will be two lanes.

The three-lane section will go just west of Cheyenne Drive then taper to two lanes all the way to Route T. Cheyenne Drive is the end of the commercial area of Apache Flats. It will have a curb, gutter and sidewalk similar to what was put in for the first phase of improvements.

Engineering work has already been done, and the construction estimate is $3.3 million.

Meetings with county department heads to go over their budgets are scheduled for the first week of December. The commission's vote to approve the budget is scheduled Jan. 7.

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