Compared to past years of financial woes, news for the 2014 Morgan County budget is good. The year 2013 saw a $4.9 million general fund budget while 2014 is anticipating a $5.3 million budget.
“We are in a good situation,” Councilman Lyle Nelson said.
Morgan County Clerk Auditor Stacy Lafitte said she anticipates revenue increases compared to the 2013 budget to include $137,000 in tax revenues, $158,000 in licenses and permits, $29,000 in charges for services, and $12,000 in miscellaneous revenue.
A minor expenditure increase is attributed to increases in wages or benefits for county employees. The budget includes $19,000 for an election budget, an increase because 2014 will be a general election year while 2013 was only a municipal election year.
More money will be flowing to the planning and development department for a full-time secretary ($35,000), as well as to the sheriff’s department ($125,000), fleet management ($28,000), fairgrounds ($18,000).
Revenue decreases are anticipated to include $5,000 in intergovernmental revenue, $150 in fines and forfeitures, and an overall decrease in use of the prior year’s general fund balance. There will also be a $53,000 decrease in expenditures because the county shed its district court budget.
Council Chairwoman Tina Kelley said the new budget includes allowances for the city to contract with the county for animal control services starting in July.
Certified tax rates will be on the rise in 2014, as approved by the county council in July. The tax increase will equate to an increase in budgets for the flood fund ($1,000), health services ($3,000), and library/historical society.
Lafitte said the county will be contributing to the unappropriated balance in 2014 rather than drawing from it as in previous years.
“That is a significant increase over the last two to three years,” Councilman Robert Kilmer said.
Adjustments had to be made to the 2013 budget for several routine things such as grants for the GIS department, library, ambulance, and emergency management; an additional part-time building inspector; IT expenses for iPads and an internet connection; and the installation of camera dn DVR security system for the district court. While very few departments went over budget in 2013, those that did include the airport, TV tower, cooperative fire, liquor law, and annual fair ($6,000).
One adjustment was not so routine, Kilmer said. In fact, he called it an “illegal taking.” It involved using $40,000 from the impact fee fund to construct a new hog barn at the fairgrounds in 2013.
“We were under the assumption the fairgrounds were our regional park” according to the capital facilities plan meant to spell out where impact fees collected from new construction can be spent, Kilmer said.
In an effort to “conform to all laws,” the county returned the $40,000 to the 2013 impact fee budget, and instead took the money from the general fund. The county plans to update its capital facilities plan in the very near future so that the fairgrounds are defined as a regional park that can receive impact fee money.
Nelson asked the council to consider using impact fees to construct a trail from Cottonwood Canyon Road in Mountain Green to Trappers Loop.