|COUNTY OFFICES SUFFER FROM FUNDING|
|October 17, 2001 12:00 am|
GOLD BEACH Curry Countys first round of quarterly budget hearings held last week gave county commissioners a chance to check on problems and successes within their departments.
While most departments are on track with the budget for fiscal year 2001-02, some are still suffering from last years problems.
Commissioner Marlyn Schafer said the District Attorneys budget ended up $43,882 in the hole last year because the former district attorney projected revenues that never came in.
District Attorney Charlie Steak said hed asked that money from the Liquor Law Enforcement Fund be applied to last years budget to help balance the losses somewhat. County Budget Officer Geoff Buchheim said there was no spending authority to do that.
Schafer said it could be transferred into next years working capital and transferred at the end of that year.
I have to hang onto it for a year? said Steak. I cant give it back to the county now?
Schafer told him he would have to wait a year.
This years revenues were listed as lower than expected in a few areas, but Steak said he will be receiving about $11,000 not yet listed on the budget printout.
Money from domestic violence prevention and victims assistance had also not come in yet, but should soon be in. Steak said the victims assistance revenues will be $5,000 more than projected.
He said revenues in some categories, like witness reimbursements, are well ahead of projections.
He told the commissioners the criminal forfeiture law would also go back into effect Jan. 1.
But it depends on the assets to be seized, he said. Dont count on revenues.
Juvenile Department Director Jeff Hancock told the commissioners he could be $8,000 short in on-call pay because of union negotiations.
He said his department needs to bring in more revenue, but that is not easy.
Hancock looked into using his juvenile crew on federal forest land projects, but most of the Title 3 projects are in Agness.
He said most of his juveniles are from Brookings. By time they are transported to Agness and back, the few hours they have left to work in barely pay for the adult supervisor.
Hancock said he would continue to work with local ranger districts for work crew projects.
He said hed used up about 25 percent of his juvenile detention budget, which is right on target for the first quarter of the fiscal year.
He warned, however, that he could get a juvenile offender sentenced under Measure 11 laws, which could put the offender in detention for two months.
To save on those costs, said Hancock, hes been sanctioning offenders within the community with techniques such as house arrest.
He said he might be able to get money from grants, but with only a counselor and a half to cover the whole county, he is too busy handling cases to work on grants.
He said he is willing to do grant writing work, but cant now because his department is stretched too thin.
Schafer said finding money to make one of the counselors full-time instead of half-time would help.
Commissioner Rachelle Schaaf said, If we could raise $20,000-$30,000 for a counselor so you could be an administrator and write grants, you might get $100,000 back.
Sharon Mather, program director for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, said, Why not get a grant writer for the whole county. The money would be well-spent.
She said she needs to do more recruiting for her program, but cant afford to do so right now.
Commissioner Lucie La Bont agreed with Mather, but didnt know where the money could be found to hire a grant writer.
As for caseload, Hancock said out of the 4,000 juveniles living in Curry County, about 210 are in the juvenile justice system.
He said his department is trying to reach younger offenders now.
He said the number of juveniles in the Curry justice system is high per capita, compared with the state average.
He said the number of referrals to his department would be even higher, however, if the sheriff had more deputies to devote to law enforcement.
Emergency Services Coordinator Mike Murphy said revenue from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is down.
As for special funds from Congress after the terrorist attacks, Murphy said nothing has been funded yet from the countys needs assessment.
La Bont suggested he approach Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative for funds to finish installing the electric generator in the Emergency Operations Center.
Veterans Services Officer Mike McGuiness said he has never gone over-budget, and wont this year, but could use double his budget to do what needs to be done for veterans in Curry County.
The vets are getting the best they can get, he said, with the money available.
He said it took him three years of work to help one veteran secure the $100,000 a year income he had coming, but nothing in the budget could reflect that kind of accomplishment.
Schaaf said Curry County has a high veteran population. Are there ways veterans groups could help? she said. Are there ways to raise revenues to serve vets?
McGuiness said he could speak to the groups.
Schaaf asked how long the veterans services grant had stood at $12,500 a year.
As long as Ive been here, he said.
It is often not adequate, he said, because he works with vets until they die, then continues to work for their families.
La Bont suggested veterans groups do more lobbying at the national level.
The commissioners also thanked McGuiness for agreeing to supervise the countys janitorial staff, and for helping in Animal Control while the regular officer is recovering from an injury.
Schafer said the janitorial service is running more efficiently now. Its made a big difference, she said.
Schafer thanked County Assessor Jim Kolen for coming in under-budget in fiscal year 2000-01. You saved the general fund $14,000 last year, she said.
Kolen said he hasnt gone overbudget this year either. I never have, he said.
He also said the quarterly budget hearings are a good idea. Ive advocated for them for years.
In the Treasurers Office, Deputy Treasurer Linda James said the interest rate Curry County is earning in the state pool is now 3.2 percent. She said the rate has fallen 3 percent during the past nine months.
Schafer said the county budget had projected 5 percent earnings on interest. Were looking at another big loss in revenue, she said.
Buchheim said some of that could be made up because the county will have more O&C funds earning interest than it had projected.
The Road Department was doing even better than expected. Roadmaster Dan Crumley said he ended the fiscal year with a $1.8 million cash-carry-over. State highway funds, however, can only be used for road projects.
Were pretty much on track, said Crumley. Its business as usual. Were doing fine.
Youre doing great, said Schafer.
Crumley said his department accomplished more than normal because of the dry winter. Another dry winter wouldnt hurt my feelings, he said.
The only problem facing the Road Department may be fuel costs. Crumley said he is paying only a few cents less than the average consumer in Curry County.
Theyre all over the board, he said of fuel costs. We may have to adjust (the budget) later.
Children and Families
Schafer said the Curry County Commission on Children and Families also had a larger cash-carry-over than projected: $37,687 more.
Program Director Myrna Barber was happy to hear that, because she had to cut the Alternative Youth Activities program this year.
Administrative Assistant Cheryl Watson said the department had received most of its state funding for the year, so it was time to work on the federal money.
County Clerk Renee Kolen also came in under-budget, by $5,328.
She said her recording division has been busy. She has had to spend so much time there that she has not been able to travel to do her normal legislative work. Kolen said she has tried to keep up with that by phone.
Schafer said the department would need new voting equipment some day.
Were constantly upgrading, said Kolen. She said Curry County is fortunate it went straight from hand-counting to optical scanners, so it doesnt have to replace punch card equipment.
In the Commissioners Office, the commissioners approved $1,500 to allow the new centralized office supply system to start building up an inventory of commonly used items.
Budget Committee member Scott McKenzie said the system was like a co-op. You have to contribute so much to keep it going.
Schaaf said it could also be used to save on janitorial supplies, which are used by the animal shelter, the Work Center, and the Human Services Department.
La Bont said the Brookings Flying Club is looking for ways to reconfigure the Brookings Airport to put in more hangars, which would produce more rent for the county.
She said it may also get another $126,000 in federal funds.
The airport is doing really well, she said. The FAA and Oregon Aeronautics likes to help out small airports.
She said the flight club wants the airport to have global positioning system and automated weather equipment so more planes can use it.
Public Health Director Barbara Floyd was unable to attend the budget hearing, but Schafer said her department is doing well.
Barbara worked very hard to try to get her costs under control and do the billing, said Schafer.
She said Public Health had exceeded its budget in the past, but was only $20,000 overbudget last year, and is on target this year.