Following a special and regular scheduled meeting, the Board of County Commissioners finalized the estimate of needs for each of the county office’s budget for the fiscal year on Monday morning. Commissioner Marven Goodman questioned both the district attorney and sheriff’s office accounts and voted against their proposed budget.
This article continues following the video.
The commissioners unanimously (3-0) agreed to send the budget recommendations to the Excise Board for their review and ultimate approval. The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, Oct. 6.
Jerry Putnam, county budget consultant, announced the county had a carry-over of $223,349.62 from the previous fiscal year and after the 18 county departments supplied their estimate of the needs the county had an additional $183,732.19 to disburse.
Commissioners agreed to add $50,000 to the employee health insurance category due to rising costs in health care insurance. The category is now budgeted for $758,000. The additional $133,732.19 was supplied to the general government capital outlay section.
Of the 18 county department, the commissioners agreed unanimously on 16.
Goodman questioned an additional $6,513.53 funding for the district attorney’s office for civil attorney funding. The civil fees are budgeted for legal counsel and representation for county officers and departments.
This conversation begins at the 2:55 portion of the video.
In the special meeting on Oct. 1, Goodman stated he understood state statues to say they could not allow that. “Just my amateurish looking through the statues, what I found actually says we cannot do that,” Goodman said.
The conversation was tabled until Monday morning so that the DA’s office could review.
Assistant District Attorney Glen Hickerson returned on Monday and shared state statues that do allow additional money to be budgeted for civil attorney fees. Hickerson went on to say since 2002 Payne County commissioners have contributed to their office for the additional funding.
“Currently they (Payne County) are paying about 86 percent. We are only asking that Logan County to contribute 14 percent,” Hickerson said.
“My biggest concern is that the DA’s office is asking for a supplement of salaries that has been paid for by the state. The state statues say that they will pay all fees for the district attorney and assistant district attorneys. My challenge here is looking at the budget that we have today and the budget we may have next year, the process of growing government, especially salaries, needs to be looked at very closely. Yes, it may only be $6,000 extra this year, but that opens the door and sets a precedent for that to be done year after year,” Goodman said.
After further discussion on the role of the civil attorney and the additional fee, the commissioners agreed to vote separately on the 18 departments. Commissioners Mike Pearson and Monty Piearcy voted yes for the district attorney’s estimate of needs with Goodman casting the lone no vote.
Next up was the sheriff’s department, who like the district attorney’s office, was tabled on Oct. 1 when Goodman requested additional information on the funding of the jail operations.
This conversation begins at the 26:40 portion of the video.
On Oct. 1 Goodman said he wanted to know how much it cost to run the jail and to be sure there was no double funding occurring.
On Monday, Goodman and the Sheriff’s Department investigator and attorney Mark Miskovsky discussed state statues about reoccurring funds and if a sales tax is a reoccurring revenue. Goodman suggested it was and Miskovsky said he was unaware of any law or statue that would back that motion.
Miskovsky stated it cost $1.74 million to operate the jail per year, the average salary in the jail is $1.056 million, $162,000 goes toward employee health insurance and $684,000 is the average over head for the jail. He went on to say the sheriff’s office pays the health insurance with non-reoccurring funds and not with county government money.
Afterwards, Goodman asked, “What I am more interested in is how much does it cost to operate the jail? How much of this jail operation are we able to fund out of the quarter cent sales tax that was passed for the operation of the jail? Are there any other salaries paid for out of any other cash funds that support the jail?”
County Clerk Troy Cole clarified the full time salary budget of $848,000 from the county go towards deputies and dispatchers. The jail salaries are funded through the sales tax account.
Miskovsky stated the average salary for the jail on a yearly basis is $1.056 million.
Goodman went on to say, “why did this county log roll a three-quarter cents tax to give this sheriff a quarter cent increase to operate the jail when it sounds like it really wasn’t needed cause no body is tracking it.”
Sheriff Jim Bauman, who was reserved in the audience, quickly stopped Miskovsky from responding and said, “Commissioners, I think, we have shown that we have tried to be good servants to help the jail. I close this. It’s up to you to decide.”
Piearcy asked Goodman if you wanted all this information in the last meeting why did you not go to the sheriff and ask him?
Goodman replied, “I have asked the sheriff several things and have yet to get a response back.”
Bauman quickly responded by saying, “You have never come to my office. You have never asked me anything. Anybody is welcome to come to my office and check my budget. It is open record. I am open to anybody.”