Preliminary 2020 county budget a shade lower than 2019

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At the end of the November quorum court meeting, Justice of the Peace Jack Deaton distributed an outline of a proposed county budget for 2020. He asked the other JPs to review the figures before the Dec. 16 meeting.

Speaking during the comments portion of the Nov. 18 meeting, Deaton said he could have placed the budget on the agenda for that meeting because the budget committee had completed the proposal well in advance of the meeting, but leaving the vote until the December meeting would give everyone more time to review.

Deaton said the committee had worked diligently in the past couple of months. Other JPs on the committee are Chuck Olson, Marty Johnson, Matt Phillips and Kellie Matt. JP John Howerton, who has kept extensive contact with the Carroll County Airport Commission, took part in the budget review process. Deaton also asked JP Larry Swofford to attend, because Swofford has served on the quorum court for 27 years.

Deaton credited County Clerk Connie Doss and County Treasurer Makita Williams for their work throughout the process. Deaton also credited those department heads not directly involved. “Those who needed something added to their budget found a way to trim somewhere else,” he said.

JP Chuck Olson also praised department heads for finding ways to “trim where they could,” allowing the county to spend more on pay raises for employees. “We’ve given raises the past three years, and I hope we can sustain that level,” Deaton said. “We’re still not where some counties are, but we do what we can.”

He and other JPs are still concerned about pay rates at the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies will see a raise in the coming year, but the department still trails other counties.

The proposed budget totals $12.7 million, a figure slightly smaller than the 2019 budget. During 2019, the county paid off a retirement obligation for district court, and that expense of $125,000 will not recur in 2020.

The county clerk’s budget showed a large increase, from $178,000 to $230,000, but Deaton explained that this reflects nothing more than a change in accounting procedures. The county clerk’s office had been paying an employee out of a Special Revenue Fund, and that money has now been shown in County General Funds.

Some other budget changes reflect a change in strategy for the quorum court. The line item for county buildings will go from $19,000 to $9,500, because the JPs have decided to appropriate money as necessary for maintenance projects.

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