HENNEPIN — With only a few days to go before the Dec. 1 deadline, the Putnam County Board passed its 2019 budget and appropriations ordinance on Nov. 28.
With declining revenues, depleted funds, limited levy increases and a defeated referendum, the board was unable to overcome a $428,427 deficit, but Putnam County Board Chairman Steve Malavolti said they were “on the right track.”
The 2018 budget revenues totaled $2.74 million compared to the 2019 total of $2.65 million. The 2018 deficit of more than $975,000 is substantially higher than 2019’s projected deficit.
The beginning General Fund balance will be $200,000, compared to 2018 when there was $650,000, and in 2017 when there was more than $780,000.
There is a loss of expected revenue in several areas, including the replacement tax; sales tax; the Social Security fund; the use tax; the gaming tax; public defender fees; criminal and juvenile fees; county court fees; 911 salary reimbursement; liquor license and miscellaneous permits; grant income; interest earned; and other reimbursements.
Revenue funded by property tax increases will build up the following funds: corporate, insurance, audit, IMRF, workman’s compensation, and unemployment. Additional increases include the state income tax; the state’s attorney, public defender, and probation officer reimbursements; drug enforcement fines; state’s attorney and public defender fees; county clerk fees; and property tax late penalties.
Cuts include a reduction in the hours of operation for the courthouse that resulted in a loss of approximately $4,000 of yearly income for hourly employees.
Other cuts included reductions to the appropriations for the board, economic incentive rebates; youth program funding; senior center funding; operating materials and expenses; equipment purchases and maintenance; several jail line items; juror expenses; purchases of revenue stamps; education and travel expenses; part-time help; postage expenses; publishing costs; state mandated increases; a pay freeze; supporting services; legal fees; law library expenses; and capital projects.
‘Excellent job cutting out fluff’
“We all knew we weren’t going to balance the budget in one year, but I think the finance committee did an excellent job in cutting out the fluff,” Malavolti said.
The county’s highway funds will suffer significant losses of revenue across several areas that will result in more than an $80,000 deficit for the department. The bridge fund revenue is also expected to drop, from 2018’s $241,000 to roughly $134,000. The revenue for the Motor Fuel Tax fund is projected to stay the same at $216,000, but expenditures are dropping from more than $193,000 to a little more than $128,000.
Prior to the budget’s approval, there was an executive session held with Bob Cofoid, the Emergency Management Office coordinator, and Chauntelle Biagi-Bruer, the assistant coordinator. No official announcement will be made until the board’s Dec. 10 meeting, but a restructuring of the office is likely.
Malavolti said the approved levy ordinance increase will be the 4.99 percent allowed by statute and should generate more than $1.88 million total and provide more than $1.1 million to the county’s General Fund.
“The General Fund will be paid what is due,” he said.
The next Putnam County Board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Putnam County Courthouse in Hennepin.