County Manager gives budget recommendations
Two years’ and $5.5 million worth of road projects that is the main priority for Summit County’s budget going into 2014, which is seeking to play catch-up after a year which saw $770,000 in delayed maintenance projects.
Summit County Manager Bob Jasper presented his budget recommendations to the County Council on Wednesday, laying out major road projects and the addition of five staff positions as the main highlights. Jasper’s total recommended 2014 operating budget totals $50.8 million, which amounts to an increase of 12.2 percent over 2013.
Reasons for the increase, Jasper said, include $1.9 million for the construction of a roundabout at the Silver Creek exit of U.S. 40, a $1.4 million increase in a municipal fund property tax increase that was rebudgeted from 2013 and $1 million to remodel the Summit County Justice Center and add a new courtroom.
A notable change to 2014’s budget Jasper has made is the creation of a ‘Capital Resources’ fund that is comprised of $7.3 million from the Municipal Services Fund and $186,000 from the General Fund.
"We do not have a formal capital fund," Jasper said, adding that most counties do have formal capital funds. "We have an elected auditor who keeps it in the books, but we really need to have a long-term capital plan."
For the Community Development department’s budget, revenues from building permits are expected to rise from $580,000 to $900,000. Jasper attributed this expected rise to a half a million dollars coming from property taxes from new construction, most notably in the Kimball Junction area. Sales taxes have also increased better than anticipated, he said.
The $1.4 million increase to the Municipal Services Fund will all go toward funding the $5.5 million of road maintenance projects, Jasper said, adding the county has "two years’ worth of road projects" to catch up on.
The five added staff positions, which Jasper said amount to four "net" positions, represents the first time the county has added positions since 2009. The added positions are in the Sheriff’s Office, the Planning Department and Public Works. Jasper is also recommending a one percent cost-of-living increase for county employees and a three percent merit raise.
Jasper also recommended the council take $200,000 of surplus money from the General and Municipal Services Funds and put it into an emergency fund, which would help the county cover its costs for future emergencies like August’s Rockport Estates wildfire.
The Summit County Council and county department heads will be engaged in budget discussions throughout November and into December. Public budget hearings are scheduled for Dec. 11 and 18. For more information, visit summitcounty.org.
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