The Letcher County Fiscal Court voted unanimously to approve the first reading of its annual budget for Fiscal Year 2019–2020, at a special meeting Tuesday night.
As is required by state law, the budget is balanced, with expenditures of $7,420,324.72 against revenue of $7,420,324.72.
County Treasurer Doris Jean Frazier pointed out that this year’s budget is slightly higher than last year’s budget of $6,693,812, which reflected sharp declines in mineral severance tax receipts and changes in property tax evaluation made by the state.
Frazier said that although mineral taxes remain static, the increased revenue comes from increases in property taxes as well as motor vehicle and franchise taxes. She also said there is more revenue in the jail budget from Housing Control Intake, which represents the number of state prisoners housed in the county jail. State prisoners are prisoners who have been sentenced to serve time in state prisons but are still housed in the county jail.
Frazier told the court that the sanitation department is doing an excellent job in collecting sanitation bills. She said it is possible that collections may exceed the amount that is budgeted for collections. Frazier added that salaries for court officials are slightly lower this year because Judge/Executive Terry Adams and all five magistrates are newly elected and their salaries started at the state base salary rate. She said court officers’ salaries will be raised incrementally for each year they serve.
Frazier told the court that a budget is a plan that can change if additional revenues come in, or if expenses are greater than expected from extreme weather or another emergency situations. She explained that the state charges the judge/executive each year with presenting a balanced budget to the court for its approval. However, when the court approves the first reading it becomes the court’s budget.
The budget will now be presented to the Department of Local Government, which will conduct a thorough examination to make certain accounting is correctly done and ensure that the county has enough funds budgeted to service its debts, overall and for each county department. When the budget is approved, it will be returned and copies will be available in the judge’s office for public viewing. A second reading will be held after it has been advertised for 21 days. Following the vote to approve the second reading, a budget summary will be published in The Mountain Eagle. The finalized budget must be submitted to the state by June 30. If the budget is not submitted by June 30, the county will be unable to conduct business after that date. The court voted unanimously to approve the first reading.
The court also voted unanimously to adopt the annual standing order to pay bills that occur on a regular monthly basis. These include utility bills and other monthly expenses that occur at different dates each month and often are due before the regular court meeting when bills are approved for payment. This allows the county finance officer to post a check to pay the bill, although the standing order bills are still included on the court docket for approval by the court.