POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission has approved its budget for Fiscal Year 2016-17, which reflects declining revenue and an increase in expenses.
The budget, which goes into effect on July 1, was discussed at Thursday’s regular commission meeting.
Mason County’s total budget for FY 2016-17 is $7,100,614, down slightly from last year’s total budget of $7,221,006.
County Administrator John Gerlach told Commissioners Tracy Doolittle, Rick Handley and Miles Epling, in regards to the new budget year, revenue didn’t go down as much as he had anticipated though expenses went up more than he had expected. One of the most significant expenses was a four percent increase in Public Employee Insurance Agency premiums for employees. Commissioners said though the county could not afford pay raises for employees this year, the county would absorb that four percent increase, rather than pass it on to employees.
Gerlach also said the county lost $10 million in valuation in public utilities with significant losses also in oil and gas revenue, and coal severance funds. Gerlach said after July 1, the county would know if it had any “carryover” money from last year to put back into the FY 2016-17 budget.
The state sets the amount for which the commission must fund all courthouse agencies and these agencies must be funded first by law, with any remaining money going to outside agencies. The general budgets, including insurance costs, for the following county offices in FY 2016-17 are: County Commission Office $675,485; County Clerk’s Office $463,651; Circuit Clerk’s Office $382,405; Sheriff’s Department (treasurer) $296,972, Sheriff’s Department (law enforcement) $1.3 million, Sheriff’s Department (service of process) $90,930; Prosecuting Attorney’s Office $438,110; Assessor’s Office $341,576.
As it stands, this is what commissioners approved Thursday in terms of funding outside agencies:
Development Authority, $10,000 in FY 2016-17 ($5,000 in FY 2015-16). Ambulance Authority, $30,000 in FY 2016-17 ($60,000 in FY 2015-16). Mason County Fair, zero funding in FY 2016-17 ($3,000 in FY 2015-16). Libraries $12,750 in FY 2016-17 ($25,500 in FY 2015-16). Community Action, zero funding in FY 2016-17 (zero funding in FY 2015-16). Waste Authority, zero funding in FY 2016-17 ($5,000 funding for county-wide clean up in FY 2015-16). Health Department, $6,750 in FY 2016-17 ($12,500 in FY 2015-16). Park Maintenance, zero funding in FY 2016-17 ($25,000 in FY 2015-16). Day Report Center, zero funding in FY 2016-17 or FY 2015-16 (this agency has received grants for operation). Prestera, zero funding in FY 2016-17 (zero funding in FY 2015-16). Local mental hygiene cases (rate set by the state), $20,000 in FY 2016-17 ($20,000 in FY 2015-16). Agricultural Agent $20,089 in FY 2016-17 ($40,089 in FY 2015-17).
Fire Departments: New Haven $6,750 in FY 2016-17 ($13,500 in FY 2015-16). Mason $6,500 in FY 2016-17 ($13,000 in FY 2015-16). Point Pleasant $7,750 in FY 2016-17 ($15,500 in FY 2015-16). Valley $6,750 in FY 2016-17 ($13,500 in FY 2015-16). Leon $6,250 in FY 2016-17 ($12,500 in FY 2015-16). Flatrock $6,250 in FY 2016-17 ($12,500 in FY 2015-16).
Community Buildings: Hartford, New Haven, Henderson, Letart, Baden, Beech Hill, Gallipolis Ferry all receive $500 in FY 2016-17; all received $1,000 in FY 2015-16. Leon Town Park receives $200 in FY 2016-17 and received $400 in FY 2015-16. (These funds assist with utility costs.)
Festivals: No festivals are budgeted to receive county funds for FY 2016-17. In comparison, last fiscal year, the following received funding: Battle Days $1,250, Point Pleasant Regatta $1,250, Tourism $3,000, River Museum $1,000, Mothman Festival, $750.
There will be no county funding for New Haven Pool with funding disappearing for that in FY2013-14.
The regional jail bill budget is estimated at $600,000 for FY 2016-17. Home Confinement program costs are estimated at $295,670. The county’s coal severance fund budget is $50,000, down from last year’s $111,000.
At Thursday’s meeting, commissioners and Gerlach said Assessor Ron Hickman had worked with the commission to use money from his valuation fund to assist with operational expenses in the assessor’s office, which helped balance the budget. In addition, commissioners and Gerlach said Sheriff Greg Powers had also looked into ways to cut expenses as well during budget meetings.
The budget now goes to the West Virginia State Auditor for review and approval.
Reach Beth Sergent at email@example.com or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.