County commissioners reserve funds for road resurfacing and counselor

The Marion County Commission, completing its 2005 budget work Monday, found the money needed for the top two items the commissioners want accomplished next year-road resurfacing and some kind of county counselor.

In discussion with Scot Loyd, budget and auditing consultant who was putting the final touches to the budget, commissioners found the needed funds mostly a matter of how to enter them in the budget.

Mike Olsen, consulting road engineer with the firm of Kirkham Michael & Associates, received commission permission to proceed with getting bids on a 1.5-inch overlay resurfacing of Indigo, the 13-mile road south of Hillsboro to U.S. Highway 50, with construction to begin in early October. He said the original 2-inch overlay of the road has held up well.

Olsen said he likes to see asphalt laid when it begins getting cold at night, and then going on into winter for long-term curing before heavy harvest traffic begins.

Loyd told commissioners they basically are free to arrange funding under the budget any way they want as long as it doesn’t violate state statutes. Although the commissioners did approve the budget for publication Monday, Loyd said they are still free to move some funds within it after the final budget hearing.

Commissioners Bob Hein, Leroy Wetta and Howard Collett agreed they wanted $50,000 from the general fund designated as a separate fund for creation of a county counselor position. They would want the counselor also to assume some economic development functions.

Loyd said he saw a number of places money might be saved for other purposes. For instance, if current sales tax trends continue, the county could end up with $50,000 more in sales taxes for the year compared to last year, he said.

All three commissioners quickly added that according to their past experience, a continued high receipt of sales tax isn’t something to count on.

Such moves as early payoff of bonds and tightening the sheriff’s budget downward from what it might have been with new jailers added also makes more dollars available from existing revenues, Loyd said.

The commissioners steered away from lowering the expected amount to be anticipated for county-built bridges next year to $186,000, an average $62,000 each for three bridges, compared to $210,000 originally designated.

In light of rising steel prices, Hein said he thought the amount projected should stay “at least at $200,000 in this case.”

The commissioners wanted to make sure that road and bridge funds to resurface roads remained adequate.

Wetta said he thinks that in efforts to meet budget shortfalls over the last two years, the Department of Road and Bridges was not provided with everything needed in order to prop other segments of the county.

Collett wanted to see in the budget where purchase of millings from U.S. Highway 77 reconstruction will originate.

Olsen confirmed Collett’s analysis that there is shoulder deterioration along part of the Durham-Lincolnville Road near Tampa because of wet weather that will have to be corrected.

The mill levy remained at 57.98, a figure Loyd said won’t change.

A report from County Treasurer Jeannine Bateman placed the county’s “funds-on-hand position” July 30 at $7,173,038 with $1,871,631 in the general fund and $871,414 in road and bridge.

Bateman reported 28 delinquent personal property warrants turned over to Sheriff Lee Becker on that date.

Bateman said expenditures from the special auto fund totaled $11,826, which included capital outlays in the treasurer’s office of $865 for a ceiling fan from Elcon Service, $6,543 for office furniture and labor from Navrat’s, and $714 for a computer from Great Plains Computers.

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