Supervisors add $1.9 million to budget

Published 10:46 am Friday, June 17, 2016

Cumberland supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to amend the current fiscal year’s budget, increasing it by over $1.9 million to cover previously approved items.

County Administrator and County Attorney Vivian Seay Giles said the amendment was mostly just pulling into the budget items that had been voted on during the course of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

The only new money involved went to the Child Services Act (CSA) and the utilities fund.

Before the motion passed for the amendment, Giles said of CSA: “This would transfer $100,000 into that fund just to get through the end of the year. Invoices come in constantly, so we don’t have an exact number yet, because we haven’t completed the end of the year, but that should more than get us through the end of the year. Of course, anything unspent would then just stay in the general fund.”

Giles said she also added $200,000 of federal and state CSA money, “because when our local expenses go up, also federal and state expenses go up.”

Of the $1.9 million total increase, “I will point out that the vast majority of that is federal and state money, the largest single item being the Governor’s School that was also not included in last year’s budget because we didn’t have that information,” Giles said. “Cumberland County just took that over … .”

Over $1 million of the amendment went to the Governor’s School Fund.

The amendment transferred $150,000 into the utilities fund.

“That is not, just so you know, a shortfall for the year,” Giles said. “The renovation project, the repair project was completed in this fiscal year, so part of the money was spent last year, part of it’s this year. So we do know we’re operating in the red, but a big chunk of this that we’re asking to transfer into the fund, it was to complete that maintenance project that was completed during the course of this fiscal year.”

Unbudgeted expenditures previously approved that were added to the budget by the amendment include $141,908 for Ameresco debt service, $125,000 in legal fees, $65,000 for the Cumberland Volunteer Rescue Squad and $35,000 for a car for the sheriff’s department.

Also included, at Giles’ suggestion, was $80,000 for the Clarksville Rescue Squad that was appropriated earlier this year for the purchase of an ambulance.

Both Giles and District Three Supervisor Kevin Ingle indicated they hope to present specifics to the board next month regarding the potential 14 percent increase in utility revenues in the fiscal year 2016-17 budget, which takes effect July 1.

Giles said her goal is to make significant headway in the coming fiscal year toward getting out of the red in the utilities fund, but she cautioned that it will take some time.

Ingle wanted to make sure the primary reason for a rate increase was correctly named.

“The issues that we have got to pay for, the increases have never been really attached to the cost of providing water,” he said. “It’s always been providing the service of removing sewer, so these increases will be attached to the name sewer, in large part.”

He added, “We might have a slight increase in water, because we do need to build some type of a reserve to be able to replace a pump, do maintenance on our water tower. All those things are regulated by the health department, so we want to make sure that when we need to do the upgrades or the maintenance, we will have the money without having to go and borrow the money again to be able to do regular maintenance items.”

As for when people can expect their bills to go up, Ingle said if the rate increases are identified for  next month, “once the ordinance gets changed or updated, it would probably be August before they would see any rate increase.”

Regarding an estimated dollar value of the 14 percent increase, he said, “I would really be scared to give you an amount right now, but we will have more information for you at next month’s board meeting when we’ve got an official recommendation of what our research has come up with.”

During public comments Tuesday, three people advocated bringing a grocery store to the county.