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County Council begins 2018 budget process

By John Estridge, Editor

There are some changes to the Franklin County Council budgetary process.

A few years ago, council changed the name of the almost week-long meetings concerning the county budget for the next calendar year, from budget hearings to workshops.

Whatever the name, the activity was the same and the process lasted the better part of a week.

Up to this year, council listened to presentations by office holders and elected officials on Monday and Tuesday, with budgetary action then taking place on Wednesday and usually into Thursday, sometimes going on late into Thursday night. There were years it lasted into the wee hours of Friday morning.

This year, the department heads, elected officials and board members of commissions, such asthe Cemetery Commission, presented their budget requests to council on Tuesday.

Franklin County Auditor Karla Bauman expects the budget to be completed on Wednesday.

The 2017 budget has been a mess from the onset, with wholesale changes to it from the budget workshops.

Bauman recently cleaned up the latest problem. The Public Safety Income Tax (PSIT) brought in $1.3 million in revenue, and council appropriated more than $1.4 million from the fund, leaving a hole of about $124,000.

While council set up a committee to deal with the problem, Bauman took it upon herself, and transferred money from different funds within the Commissioners funds to the PSIT.

It also seems like the county may actually know how much money is coming into the county, and how much money the county has at this point.

Many believe those type of hard, accurate figures have been lacking in the past several years.

All the meetings this week are public meetings. There will be public hearings concerning the budget before it is officially adopted.

The main issues this year are whether the employees will receive raises. Last year was the first year in about the last seven, that county employees received raises. However, in the way council did the raises several employees just received a 0.03 percent increase while others got about a 20 percent increase.

Also, council will have to determine whether county employees will have to make a greater contribution for their health insurance benefits.