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End-of-year report: $102,000 more than planned in Pulaski County budget

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Dec. 27, 2010) — County commissioners received a pleasant surprise at their Monday morning meeting when they discovered total yearly revenues were more than $102,000 above the budgeted amount.

Outgoing Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch said county officials had budgeted for a 2 percent growth in sales tax from 2009 to 2010, but actually saw more than double that increase.

“Some months we’d be up 5, 5.5 percent, the next month be down 4 percent, we ended up about 4.5 percent,” McCulloch said.

Unlike some past years when the commissioners received a bad end-of-year surprise in the form of late bills coming from the Miller County Jail for overflow prisoners housed there rather than in Pulaski County, McCulloch said he’s confident the $102,000 received in extra money won’t disappear due to unsubmitted bills.

“I called the presiding commissioner up there… and let him know the problem we had last year. I’m sure they could use their money in a timely issue as well so we believe we have that correct,” McCulloch said.

The county could face funding problems from a different source, however.

In counties such as Pulaski County where voters have chosen to elect a full-time rather than part-time prosecuting attorney, state law pegs the prosecutor’s pay to that of associate circuit judges. That means the county could face a major and mandatory increase in the salary owed to its prosecutor.

That didn’t make Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham happy.

“I think we need to contact our elected officials to file some kind of legislation to separate it,” Farnham said.

County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer reminded Farnham that the voters decided to make that linkage and the legislators can’t change a voter decision without a new election. Farnham suggested an alternative.

“Maybe the prosecutor needs to become a state tax situation like the judge, then, maybe they need to pick up the tab to pay them… They need to rewrite the language to separate it because it’s created nothing but heartaches, headaches for all the counties… look how many lawsuits have been filed,” Farnham said. “If they set a precedent and say they can give the raise midterm to one office, what’s going to stop that from the other offices if somebody else files suit? They’ve opened up a can of worms that they shouldn’t have opened.”

The commissioners voted to look into the issue further.

In other business:

  • Linnenbringer requested and received permission to amend Sheriff J.B. King’s special equipment fund by $3,212 because King’s office received more money than expected and spent it.
  • Commissioners discussed possibly making additional repayments on the loan with 3 percent interest given to the county budget by the courthouse sales tax fund board, a loan which currently has a $75,000 balance, but agreed that the incoming commissioners for 2011 rather than the outgoing commissioners in 2010 should make the decision.

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