County Presents Final 2020 Budget
Crawford County Clerk John Martin released the 2020 budget last week, which was passed by commissioners January 28 and submitted to the state January 31.
The county is projecting a surplus of $8,639 and has a current cash balance of $236,987.11.
The general revenue budget revenue is set at $3,258,621.83 with expenses of $3,249,982.44.
The projected year end balance is $245,626.50.
In Martin’s annual budget message, he noted that the additional one-half cent sales the county began collecting in October 2018 allowed deficits from previous years to be tackled.
Martin said the general revenue fund was left with a $31,694.27 deficit to begin 2019 and, as predicted in his 2019 message, the deficits were wiped out by the end of last January.
“As a result,” Martin said, “a more malleable budget was available for 2019, which allowed for implementation of many of the programs listed in the 2019 budget.”
Martin said the county fulfilled its promise of annually funding $200,000 into a certificate of deposit.
“Return on this investment is modest,” he said, “as it would be irresponsible of the county to make high-risk investments with tax monies.”
The 2 percent yield, according to Martin, will be sufficient for the first year of investment. A higher yield investment vehicle will be sought out in 2020 for the aggregate of the 2019 investment and the additional $200,000 to be set aside in this year’s budget.
Martin said another program the county implemented was the purchase and installation of Incode 10, “the most recent version of the government financial software.”
“Previously, the county had made use of QuickBooks, a non-government accounting software platform that proved inaccurate and unwieldy for our purposes,” he said. “The county commission believed that greater accounting accuracy and transparency would be found through the move to Incode 10, therefore installation began in September 2019.”
A new chart of accounts was designed for the Incode 10 system and it parses out many of the accounts formerly listed in QuickBooks in an attempt to clarify exactly where revenues are sourced and where expenditures are remitted.
“To that point, the budget document proffered this year will have a much different look than in previous years, but more items will be accounted for correctly in the new format,” Martin said.
Martin noted that there are still bugs needing to be worked out and more training, but it is his hope that the new software will provide “a truer picture of county finances going forward.”
The county also introduced an employee pay ladder in 2019, which they believe to be the first of its kind used in government, at least on the third-class level.
“This pay ladder system is based upon the same one in place in school districts throughout the state,” Martin said. “The system was implemented in order to attract new employees with competitive wages and reward longetivity of current employees.”
Martin said the pay ladder is performing as expected and all positions are currently full with turnover ceasing.
According to the clerk, the general revenue fund balance is down from the expected $338,528.43 that was listed in the 2019 budget, due to a higher-than-anticipated cost for Incode.
Martin also said adverse weather during three consecutive months caused “county tourism-based businesses to see decreased collections, thereby prohibiting full realization of sales tax revenues.”
Martin said the net result was a healthy, end-of-year rollover, but not nearly as much as they could have collected with better weather.
Due to 2019’s weather, the county has revised its sales tax revenue downward.
Several capital improvement projects are scheduled to be completed this year, including the HVAC installation at the county jail. Martin said other county buildings require attention as well.
A reconstruction project for a roof and replacement of old flooring “will utilize a great deal of capital improvement funds,” Martin said.
The general revenue fund must pay for four separate elections in 2020, which Martin said is more than realized in 2019 or will be in 2021.
Overall, the clerk said the county is solvent and he will work to keep it that way.
“For the first time in nearly a decade, Crawford County begins 2020 with a positive balance in the general revenue fund and is projected to end the year the same way,” he said. “Solvency has been attained in Crawford County; this clerk will work to maintain it as long as he is in office.”