(above) Top 2023-2024 budget expense categories (millions)
The Jefferson County Commission unanimously approved a budget to submit to the State, following a short public hearing at 9:30 in the morning on Monday, March 27. The lone citizen commenter who attended the hearing questioned the short notice and lack of detail in the draft budget document that was released at 4 pm on the previous Friday. This budget covers the fiscal year (FY24) that starts on July 1, 2023 and runs through June 30, 2024.
The County’s revenue for FY24 is projected to be $33.2 million, up from the FY23 revenue budget of $29.2 million. The County’s revenues come from real estate property taxes, personal property taxes, and other various fees, plus interest and some grant funds. The biggest revenue change from FY23 is the inclusion of ambulance billings, which is estimated to add an additional $1.6 million in revenue (this number reflects amounts to be billed to patients and their insurance companies for transport to a hospital, which is separate from the ambulance fee charged to all residents).
The County has budgeted for $32.9 million in expenses for FY24, for a net surplus of $284,652. The budgeted surplus for the current year is $1 million and the actual surplus for FY22 (last year) was $3.8 million — these surplus amounts are transferred to the County’s capital outlay fund at the end of each fiscal year (this is the fund that the county uses to purchase vehicles, other equipment, and building improvements/expansions).
TOP BUDGET EXPENSE INCREASES (%)
Recruiting and retaining qualified staff has become an issue in all county departments. The Commission approved a 5% COLA for all county employees. In addition, several departments received approval to hire additional staff and to increase the general pay scale for their employees.
The IT department will see the biggest percentage increase in spending (growing from $892 thousand in FY23 to $1.3 million in FY24, almost a 50% increase).
The biggest changes in total expenses will be for ambulance services, which will increase by $1 million, and the Sheriff’s law enforcement budget, which will increase by $700,000. The bulk of the increases in these two departments are for staffing (these department-specific numbers do not include the 5% COLA that also applies to employees in these departments).
Budget categories which show no increase from FY23 include the Visitors Bureau, Development Authority, Regional Jail, Development Authority, Historic Commission, State Computer Network, Arts & Humanities Alliance, and Magistrate Court.By Staff Contributor