The County’s fiscal year runs from Jan. 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2010. In 2010, according to projections, the County will bring in $24.4 million in revenues and spend $26.1 million.
Deputy County Administrator Gary Hanson has evidently discovered a pattern in government finance. According to published reports he told board members that a deficit means spending more than what’s taken in.
Thanks in large part to the windfall sales tax the County receives from the old County Farm property their rainy-day reserves are strong. Despite concerns expressed that the $1.7 million projected budget deficit may actually be much higher because of 1) the economy and 2) soaring pension obligations, County staff is recommending spending all budgeted expenditures, rolling the dice on projected revenues and covering any imbalance with the rainy day fund.
In addition the County is moving full steam ahead on capital expenditures that will require county taxpayers to go further in debt.
A 40,000 square foot expansion of the courthouse, which would nearly double its size, could cost between $10 million to $12 million. The debt bonds would be paid back through sales tax revenue from the County Farm property, which generates about $1.2 million each year. The bonds would likely be issued in April 2010, construction would start in June of 2010, and the project should be completed by July 2011.
Bond salesmen are recommending the County take advantage of Build America Bonds (BABs) or Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds which offer low interest rates. These programs were created under the federal stimulus package — to create jobs.
The county is eligible to issue just under $6 million in bonds because it declared itself a Recovery Zone and the balance of debt financing for the courthouse addition would come from BABs.
Voters have decided, on a least two referendum attempts, that a new County Jail is not a high enough priority to approve a tax increase to repay the bond debt. The County Board apparently feels the same way voters do.
The County Jail will wait until after the courthouse renovations are complete. At an estimated cost of around $30 million this major project is scheduled to begin construction in 2012 and be completed in 2014.
If all goes according to plan the jail project debt will be repaid with garbage. Lots of it. A pending agreement between the board and Waste Management would expand the land fill to take trash from other municipalities for a fee. Revenue projections from the arrangement indicate as much as $120 million over the next 30 years or so.
That figures out to be 120 million bags of other people’s garbage at a dollar a bag.
Plans are for the county to build a roundabout at the intersection of Annie Glidden and Rich roads. This project should come in at around $535,000 but the County is only responsible for $53,500 because the federal government will provide 90% of the costs. This intersection does not have the traffic or accidents required for either stop signs or traffic lights.
A parking lot at the health facility campus near that same intersection that was built just 10 years ago needs about $400,000 to repair it as a result of poor drainage when it was designed.
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