Madison County commissioners are close to finalizing the county’s 2014 budget.
The group met for several hours on the budget Friday and will hold a public hearing Dec. 19 to get input from citizens on proposed revenues and expenses.
The proposed total budget is up slightly from this year, from $13,594,791 to $13,920,582 in total expenses, an increase of 2.4 percent. Meanwhile, expected revenues are up slightly from $12,954,333 to $13,065,800 an increase of less than one percent.
Commissioners kept this year’s tax rates steady, but the county will bring in slightly more in property tax revenue, from $6,503,698 to $6,664,159 due to a small increase in the county’s digest, or overall property value.
The expected expenses in 2014 exceed anticipated expenses by $854,782. This shortfall will be covered with the county’s cash reserves. In recent years, the board has maintained reserves of around $5 million, but the reserves will likely be closer to $4 million at year’s end, since the commissioners agreed to fund over $1 million in road projects and patrol vehicle purchases from reserves this year.
This reserve balance will still far exceed the state’s recommended minimum of 15 percent of the general fund budget.
BOC chairman Anthony Dove said he and the board have tried to maintain a healthy reserve balance of around 30-to-40 percent of the general fund budget in recent years to protect the county in case of a natural disaster or another financial calamity.
“I just think in today’s world, where things can happen very quickly, you could need those reserves in a disaster or in a drop in the economy,” said Dove. “I think you need to have that in government just like in a household. That’s just my conservative nature.”