County administrator: New budget must consider rising insurance, supply costs

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Lincoln County’s budget for the upcoming year was written “to ensure that we can afford our newly increased health insurance costs plus an additional increased that may come along in the next year,” said its author, County Administrator Daniel Calcote.

The new budget, which run through Sept. 2023, will also take into consideration the “current national and international state of affairs” that “have greatly affected the costs of supplies,” Calcote said, as well as needed departmental raises to bring up salaries so that they may remain at a competitive nature.

However, Calcote’s main goal seemed to be not raising taxes for the county’s citizenry, and, in fact, lowering taxes for those outside the city school district, since the county school district has requested fewer funds than for the prior year.

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In his proposed budget, Calcote has noted the following:

• Projected General Fund revenues have increased by nearly $650,000 from last year’s budget, mainly due to higher assessment property values. He projects higher fees for Chancery Clerk, motor vehicle privilege taxes, rail car taxes and land redemption fees will contribute to that increase.

• Almost all departments requested increased budgets due to increased health insurance costs and wages: the Board of Supervisors by $409,000, the sheriff’s department by $178,000, and the jail by $149,000.

• Calcote requested transferring money from the Grand Gulf Fund, the Special Levy Reappraisal Fund and the Excess Tax Bid Fund to be used for courthouse repairs of the HVAC and elevator and for the purchase of a new generator.

The county’s budget would therefore include the following General Fund differences from 2021-2022 to 2022-2023:

• A 25.5 percent increase for the Board of Supervisors

• A 23.3 percent increase for the Circuit Clerk

• A 46.4 percent increase for the Lincoln County School Board

• A 15 percent increase for the County Attorney

• A 100 percent decrease for the ambulance

• A 6.9 percent increase for Civil Defense

• A 60 percent decrease in advertising

• A 9.1 percent decrease for the Chamber of Commerce

When considering all funds, the general fund would see a 9.25 percent decrease, the library a 2.91 percent increase, 911 Emergency a 8.62 percent increase, the Livestock Arena a 22.52 percent increase, Solid Waste a 11.97 percent increase and the Volunteer Fire a 16.47 percent increase.

The Board of Supervisors have set Sept. 6 as the date for the public hearing to discuss amending and approving the budget.