Greene County 2021 budget to have increase in expenses

Greene County commissioners in their chambers. From left to right: Tom Koogler, Bob Glaser and Dick Gould. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS
Greene County commissioners in their chambers. From left to right: Tom Koogler, Bob Glaser and Dick Gould. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS

Greene County plans to spend $2.6 million more in its 2021 budget than it did this year, with the majority of the costs going to sheriff’s office expenses.

Commissioners Bob Glaser, Tom Koogler and Dick Gould on Thursday approved the county’s 2021 balanced budget, which proposes expenses of nearly $58 million.

Commissioners approved $1.9 million for capital improvements, which is about $409,000 more than this year’s budget. Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said the county will use those funds on several park projects, to make security upgrades to the Greene County Jail and to upgrade the county’s email system.

ExploreCOVID-19 economic effects prompt range of county government responses

Greene County estimates it will have about $57.9 million in revenue come in the next year. Huddleson said that is a conservative estimate because the coronavirus pandemic has changed so many things.

“We don’t yet know the ultimate financial impact of COVID,” Huddleson said. “We always budget conservatively so that we can weather the storm when there is one.”

The sheriff department’s budget saw a 2% increase over last year’s budget, but had requested about $1.5 million more than they were approved for. Huddleson said they settled on the $16.7 million budget because commissioners decided to fund some security upgrades to the jail through the capital improvement budget.

Huddleson said the sheriff had requested funds for more robust jail improvement projects, “but commissioners didn’t think it was prudent to put that much money into an old jail when we’ll eventually move to a new one.”

The county will be funding a new camera and DVR system for the jail.

The sheriff’s budget is the largest line expense from the county’s general fund, about 29% of the total 2021 budget.

Most other departments had a small increase or little change to their budgets compared to last year’s final budget.

The personnel department budget saw a decrease of about 2% from last year’s budget. Huddleson said that changed mainly because one person went from full-time to part-time. Commissioners also approved a resolution allowing for a 2% wage increase for cost of living, which was accounted for in the budget. Every employee not in the county’s step program will see this raise.

“As tough as this year has been on people, the county is in good shape financially due to years of good fiscal planning and cooperation from department heads and elected officials,” Huddleson said. “Residents and staff will still get the same services they’re used to.”