WILMINGTON — A $16.25 million Clinton County General Fund expense budget was approved Monday, which is projected to be matched and surpassed next year by about $190,000 in revenue.
Clinton County commissioners unanimously passed the 2016 budget, which includes expenditures higher than last year that are offset by the Clinton County Budget Commission’s higher revenue projections.
Most of the planned spending increase can be attributed to costs associated with recently added courthouse security staff, contract terms with the corrections officers (jailers) union, and insurance rates for county employees, said commissioners.
Roughly $500 per county employee was made available in each department’s salary line for raises, said Commissioner Mike Curry. The individual department heads decide how those added dollars get split among their employees, he added.
Clinton County Commissioner Patrick Haley, reflecting on the budget-drafting process this year, said he feels good about the levels of communication with the department heads this year.
Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said he appreciates how the commissioners provide “the autonomy” to department heads to run their offices as they see fit.
He added that coming in with expenditure numbers under expected revenue numbers is “a testament to this office and everyone we worked with.”
According to Curry’s most recent calculations, there will be approximately $2.8 million in the General Fund carryover balance from this year to next. The county’s carryover dollars typically are viewed as funds to fall back on in case of an emergency.
In addition, the county also could pull from $2 million of money from the sale of Clinton Memorial Hospital, kept in a reserve account.
Referring to the carryover and reserve funds, as well as a 2016 budget projected to be in the black, Curry said, “Right now we’re in a very good financial position.” Haley and Steed agreed.
The total dollar increase for county employees’ wages is half of what was included for raises in the budget for 2015, said Curry. But he pointed to the county paying for an increase in the employees’ insurance rates to be factored in as a workers’ benefit.
At one juncture, Steed said the requests from department heads for 2016 totaled $17.6 million, while commissioners approved $16.2 million.
In December 2014, the Clinton County commissioners passed a $15.2 million General Fund expense budget.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.