The proverbial race was on Tuesday as Craighead County officials worked to add the finishing touches to the 2016 county budget. The proposed $29.9 million budget, which must still be approved by the full quorum court, will include a 3% across the board raise for all county employees.
The increase is expected to cost about $300,000 to the budget, Budget Committee Ken Stacks said. However, there was some discussion Tuesday by several officials dealing with specific salary needs.
Treasurer Terry McNatt said the overall salary issue could be fixed by looking at a proposal from County Clerk Kade Holliday. Earlier this year, Holliday looked at the salary schedule in Craighead County and other counties its size to see where the county stood.
McNatt said state law forbids the use of money set aside in certain accounts, like technology accounts, making the issue difficult. Another proposal this year also included the county having a human resources manager to handle workforce issues. Another difficult issue involves nearly $3.4 million in delinquent property taxes that are still left on the books, McNatt said.
Stacks said the budget has about $25,000 in unappropriated funds set aside, and said money is tight. Tony Thomas, administrative assistant to County Judge Ed Hill, said the proposed budget included rosy revenue scenarios but stressed caution in giving the extra money.
Committee members said the issue was irritating. Justice Richard Rogers said he thought it was frustrating that Holliday spent a lot of time working on the issue just to see the $25,000 left in the unappropriated account. Justice Terry Couch said he felt it should be “everybody or nobody” on funding the extra requests.
Stacks said he believed if push comes to shove, the requests for District Court, the sheriff’s department and the deputy prosecuting attorney should be funded first. The district court’s office is looking to raise the salary of two clerks, while the sheriff’s department is seeking to raise the pay of bailiffs to the pay of detention center officers.
The pick-and-choose method drew objections from Holliday and McNatt. Holliday said one employee in his office handles human resources for the entire county, while another employee handles $27 million of funding on a daily basis.
However, Stacks said the extra requests taxed the budget.
“The money is just not there,” Stacks said.
Sheriff Marty Boyd suggested moving funding over to county general for at least three years to help the issue. But Thomas said the county is in an untenable decision.
“We can’t keep spending everything we have,” Thomas said.
Several who attended the meeting asked that officials consider investing money in the road department budget, at about $3.4 million. The option is being considered, officials said.
The budget will be discussed at the Dec. 14 meeting.