2015 county budget requests under review

MARSHALL COUNTY — How the county's $8,725,243 budget shapes out is still undecided, but county council members heard from department heads about what is needed.

The General Fund budgets for all departments totaled $9,041,321. The council now has the daunting task of determining where to cut $316,078 from the budgets.

The majority of the departments included three percent pay raises for their staff. At this time there were no decisions made on whether or not raises would be approved in the budgets. The pressing issue on how the county will handle the 20 to 25 percent anticipated increase in health insurance costs was also not decided.

County Auditor Penny Lukenbill shaved nearly $200,000 in recommendations she made to the Council earlier this month, but these recommendations nixed any pay increases.

“This comes back to 156 grand for the extra pay and a three percent raise on top of that would have to hit the 100 grand mark. And with insurance we are looking at potentially $300,000 additionally to the budget,” said council member Rex Gilliland. “We can talk about it all day long but the money is not there.”

Many of the departments were already preparing for the increase in insurance expenses by adding 20 percent to their budgets to cover the expenses. Some of the departments are facing increases in costs out of their control. The Sheriff’s Department and the Highway Department are two of those departments that must deal with large expenses in their budgets.

An example of one request being considered by the council is road salt. The Highway Department is anticipating spending a lot more for road salt this winter than last. prices increased from $48.84 to $73.32 per ton. The department has an agreement to receive 1,100 tons of salt therefore they added more than $17,000 to their budget to cover that expense.