Jefferson County reschedules 2013 budget hearings

Committees of the Jefferson County Quorum Court will try again to discuss the 2013 county budget when they meet Tuesday at the county courthouse.

Budget hearings are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. following the regular monthly meetings of committees.

The proposed County General budget for 2013 is $9,186,008.27, an increase of 1.31 percent over 2012 while the proposed County Road budget is $3,534,504, an increase of .39 percent over 2012. The total budget is listed as $12,720,512.27, or 1.05 percent above this year. The increases are the result of hikes in payments for insurance and retirement premiums.

The budget hearings had been set for last week but were postponed by County Judge Mike Holcomb after members of the court’s Finance Committee questioned some items on the budget, and particularly the format that was used by County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson and her staff to prepare the proposed budget.

Included in the December Quorum Court packet was a copy of a notice Johnson sent out advising members of the county’s legislative body and elected officials of changes in the budget coding system that were mandated by state law for this year. That notice was sent out July 27.

Also included in the packet was a request for additional funding for Johnson’s office in 2013 because state law requires the County Clerk’s Office to verify contact information for each registered voter in the county, and Johnson said in the request that there are approximately 42,000 registered voters in the county.

Additionally, Johnson said postage will increase from 45 to 46 cents beginning in January and her office is responsible for return postage. She is asking for an additional $39,984.

County Assessor Yvonne Humphrey also noted that several line items in her proposed 2013 budget need to be increased because of yearly maintenance on software that must occur to meet state guidelines. She also mentioned the postal rate increase as well as the rising cost of fuel.

Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth has asked that she be placed on the agenda when budget hearings are scheduled so that she can discuss the budget for her office.

Only two items are on the regular committee agenda for December, one of those a request to transfer $2,500 from the salary fund of county buildings to maintenance and operations to cover expenses for the remainder of the year.

The other item is a $15,062 appropriation from the Circuit Court Automation Fund to Circuit Court Automation to finish out the year.

Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt Jr. said no county money would be involved because money in the fund comes from a $5 per month fee paid by all people placed on probation.