The most highly funded items on the proposed Cole County 2023 budget are law enforcement, emergency medical services, capital improvements and general accounts.
The proposed budget for 2023 was delivered to the Cole County Commission last week by Auditor Mark Ruether. Ruether shared some highlights from the budget at the meeting, including a projected $115.2 million in revenue and $83.7 million in expenditures. Total financial resources, including transfers of existing funds, are at $119.1 million
That’s an increase in both revenue, expenditures and total financial resources from last year. In 2022, the county had $107.6 million in revenue, $74.6 million in expenditures and $115.6 million in total financial resources.
Under the proposed budget, the county would go into 2023 with $58.3 million in reserves. Ruether estimates the county will end the fiscal year with $31.5 million left in reserve.
In 2022, the county started the year with $50.7 million in reserves. The budget puts the ending reserve for 2022 at $32.8 million.
The next step in finalizing the budget will be a series of hearings with the heads of each department. The hearings will begin Nov. 29.
The budget breaks down the finances for each county department. Each department gets a section that shows its revenue, its requested appropriations and the appropriations recommended by the budget officer, Ruether. The budget also shows how much each department received in 2022.
The biggest expenses across the entire county budget come from personnel services, capital outlay, grants and materials/supplies. Personnel services in particular dominate the budget’s expenditures with $27.3 million going to salaries, part-time pay, overtime, Social Security, insurance and LAGERS, which is the retirement system for local government employees in Missouri.
Capital outlay, which is money spent on buying, improving and maintaining county assets, comes in second with $23.6 million in expenditures, followed by grants at $16.2 million and materials/supplies at $11.8 million.
The county’s general accounts would receive the highest funding in 2023 at $23.8 million. That’s nearly 20 percent of the total budget. The general accounts cover county-wide operations such as postage, contract services and health insurance for employees. The health insurance fund alone is projected to be $5.8 million in 2023.
The requested amount for the general accounts was $22.1 million. The additional appropriations come from contingency funds and money for contractual services. Contractual services, materials/supplies, capital improvements and contingency funds have the most appropriations in the general account’s budget.
If approved, the general accounts would be receiving $1 million more than in 2022.
The proposed county law enforcement budget is the second-highest at $21.5 million, taking up 18 percent of the budget. The Cole County Sheriff’s department’s operations are almost entirely covered by the law enforcement sales tax fund, but it receives an additional transfer from the county’s general fund to cover some costs.
The sheriff’s department only requested $13.3 million. The discrepancy comes largely from contingency expenses Ruether added to the budget. Personnel services, such as salaries, insurance and social security, along with materials/supplies, contractual services and capital improvements are some of the most highly funded pieces of the law enforcement budget.
The $21.5 million budget for 2023 would be a $2.2 million drop from 2022. The decrease is mainly the result of more than $1 million less to be spent on capital improvements and the absence of a $2.9 million rent/lease payment. This decrease is lessened by a $221,000 increase in spending on personnel services, a $870,000 increase in spending on materials/supplies.
Coming in third for highest appropriations is emergency medical services at $16.94 million, or 14 percent of the total budget. This total is a combination of the EMS sales tax and EMS enterprise fund. The combined EMS funds cover ambulance services and associated emergency medical treatment.
Ruether’s proposed appropriations were $27,000 less than what was requested. The biggest items on the EMS budget are personnel services, materials/supplies, capital improvements and grants.
The proposed EMS budget would represent a $3.6 million decrease in funds from 2022. The drop comes from $23,000 less being spent on contractual services and $72,000 less being spent on materials/supplies, the absence of a $60,000 rent/lease payment, a $4.3 million decrease in money transferred out and $970,000 less in the contingency fund.
The decrease is largely offset by a $1.5 million increase in capital improvements spending.
Close behind emergency medical services is the capital improvements sales tax fund, at $16.93 million. This translates to another 14 percent of the budget. This fund is used for the maintenance of county roads and bridges, as well as capital improvements like renovations on the courthouse and other county buildings.
The proposed total is $3 million more than what was requested, with additional funds being appropriated for capital improvements. The most funded projects in the capital improvements budget are resurfacing, the multimodal facility, bridge construction and other road improvements.
The capital improvements sales tax fund received $12.5 million in 2022.
There are six other departments projected to receive more than $1 million in appropriations in 2023, making up almost 27 percent of the budget:
• The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Coronavirus Recovery fund — $13.7 million. (Cole County’s $15 million in ARPA funds must be spent by the end of 2026. The proposed 2023 budget estimates a little more than $2 million of that money will have been spent by the end of 2022.)
• Public Works — $9.1 million; up from $9 million in 2022.
• The county assessor — $2.6 million; up from $2.5 million.
• The Juvenile Attention Center — $2.4 million; up from $2 million.
• The county health department — $2.39 million; up from $2.34 million.
• The prosecuting attorney — $1.9 million; up from $1.8 million.
The rest of the county’s funds will go to the 19 other county departments:
• Auditor — $232,795; up from $221,318 in 2022.
• Collectors — $735,235; up from $704,502.
• Treasurer — $163,712; up from $159,745.
• County clerk — $639,879; down from $780,018.
• Commissions — $807,964; up from $769,364.
• Recorders — $777,011; down from $873,879.
• Geographical Information Systems (GIS) — $100,607; up from $98,099.
• Information systems — $682,996; up from $594,727.
• Building maintenance — $843,754.; up from $743,083.
• County planning department — $315,486; up from $290,108.
• Public administrator — $290,647; down from $326,115.
• Circuit clerk — $55,528; up from $52,412.
• Circuit court services — $89,700; up from $89,100.
• Pre-trial release program — $389,997; up from $357,892.
• Court security — $509,835; up from $490,897.
• Child Support Enforcement — $300,593; up from $284,541.
• County coroner — $57,100; no change from 2022.
• Emergency Management — $272,563; up from $239,739.
• Parks and recreation — $130,085; up from $112,247.
Public hearings with the County Commission over the 2023 proposed budget will begin at 8 am Nov. 29.
The Nov. 29 meeting will feature hearings for: public works, the Prenger Family Center, the health department, GIS, emergency management, the collector, the treasurer and the capital improvement sales tax.
The next meeting will be at 8 am Nov. 30 and will feature hearings for: the sheriff, information systems, building maintenance, the auditor, circuit clerk, assessor, recorder and commission.
Another meeting will be held at 8 am Dec. 1 and will feature hearings for: court security, the county clerk, EMS, the public administrator, court services, child support enforcement, the prosecuting attorney and the health insurance fund.
The public is able to attend all of the hearings. If residents want to give input on the budget before the hearings, they can speak with the commissioners in their offices or over the phone. The meeting agendas and contact information for the commissioners is available at https://colecounty.org/.