The Letcher County Fiscal Court has approved the second reading of the county’s Fiscal Year 2014-15 budget.
The balanced budget, which had to be reduced considerably because of decreases in coal and mineral severance taxes, calls for expenditures of $9,877,673. County Treasurer Phillip Hampton said the budget has already been approved by the Department for Local Government and added that DLG furnished recommendations to his office for crafting the budget.
District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming asked Hampton about reductions in spending for the Senior Citizens Program, saying that in last year’s budget, the court had to add an additional $100,000 to Senior Citizens to bring it to the level of $880,300. Hampton said this year’s budget is $136,000 less than last year’s, but it reflects the amount that was actually spent on Senior Citizens. He said that savings in purchasing food, by using central purchasing through Director Trenda Kincer, rather than allowing each center to purchase food, and using competitive bidding for food, has resulted in big savings.
Judge/ Executive Jim Ward told the court that Jailer Don McCall had done the same with food for the jail and it had resulting in similar savings. Hampton also said that the budget is amendable and that the transfer process, which happens on a monthly basis, allows the court to move funds into Senior Citizens and other funds when the need is present.
Hampton told the court a lot depends on possible increases or decreases in coal severance and mineral taxes. He said he will know better when he sees the allocations for July and August, and they will just have to wait and see.
Fleming also asked about allocations to the sheriff ’s department. Judge Ward said that $50,000 for health insurance and $50,000 for retirement are budgeted, but added that last year, the total allocation from the court for the sheriff ’s department was more than $230,000.
The court voted unanimously to pass the budget and pay the current bills. Hampton said the meeting had been called in part so that the final transfer of funds for the year could be approved and the county was finishing the year in the black with a balanced budget. He said it had been a struggle to maintain fiscal discipline and Judge Ward said a meeting of all the department heads early in the fiscal year had contributed greatly to the county’s ability to stay on track. Ward said at that meeting, he told the department heads the amount they had to spend and said that was probably all they would get. He praised the department heads for sticking to their budgets and said that a similar meeting will be held soon after the new fiscal year begins.