Phelps County Road Superintendent Walter Snelson presented the department’s budget proposal before the county commission on Thursday, where it was deemed “conservative.”  Estimated revenues for 2018 were $4,054,640 and expenditures were $4,016,783. Cash on hand as of 12/31/17 was $752,731, which is $297,095 less than last year at this time, heading into 2018.

Revenues

Revenues included property and sales taxes, intergovernmental revenues such as CART (County Aid Road Trust is a fuel tax at 17 cents per gallon sold), interest and small miscellaneous revenue such as the sale of equipment and reimbursements.
Of note, motor vehicle sales taxes and fees are budgeted conservatively at $217,600 as opposed to what was collected in 2017—$283,056. The Road Department is also expected to be reimbursed for work done on roads and bridges that were damaged by the 2016 and 2017 floods—$550,00 from FEMA and an additional estimated $78,000 from SEMA from the 2013 flood.

Property tax revenues are estimated at $650,000 for 2018 as opposed to $586,499 collected in 2017. Commissioner Larry Stratman questioned the estimated amount and County Clerk Pam said it was due to the increase in the tax levy from .078 to .1156.

Expenditures

As with any budget, labor makes up the bulk, with a requested $701,077 for all road and bridge employees. This is $47,397 more than the actual amount paid out in 2017 and only $8508 more than what was approved by the commission last year at the start of 2017. This shows the difference between an estimated budget and what was approved, versus what is actually spent.

The commission said they were aware of the challenge of trying to fill county positions in a tight job market, hence a decision made earlier this year to pay one percent of a mandatory four percent employee retirement contribution for all full-time county employees. $271,978 is proposed for 2018, but again this is in line with last year’s commission-approved $272,598 vs. what was actually spent—$220,009.

Under “Supplies and Services,” equipment leases were up (requested $175,000), from what was approved by the commissioners last year (($146,879), but with later approval, the Dept. spent $175,625. Equipment breakdowns are normal and according to Superintendent Snelson, depending on what it is and the project, it is cheaper than buying and maintaining another piece of equipment. The proposed budget for this section for 2018 is $252,025. This is $14,675 more than what was actually spent last year.

Breakdown of road and bridge materials and the requested 2018 funds:

Fuel ……………………………………………………… $160,000
Equipment repair and maintenance ………………….  $85,000
Vehicle repair and maintenance ……………………...  $100,000
Building and grounds maintenance ………………….. $10,000
Contract road work/rental ……………………………..  $25,000
Flood damage and bridge repair ……………………..  $100,000
Road materials and supplies ………………………….  $$50,000
Chip and seal expense ………………………………… $750,000
Asphalt patching ………………………………………..  $400,000
Asphalt overlayment ……………………………………  $400,000
Tough on trash program ……………………………….  $2,615
Ice control ……………………………………………….  $52,000
Culverts …………………………………………………   $45,000
Road signs ……………………………………………..   $4,500
Chat ……………………………………………………..   $400,000

Total ……………………………………………………..  $2,584,115

As reported by RDN in the Friday, January 12 edition, the Road Department purchased a new oil distributing truck for $179,088 minus the trade-in value of two older distributor trucks, whose value has yet to be determined. $199,088 was requested for new equipment purchases for 2018. The purchase of this oil distributor was approved by the commission in Thursday’s open meeting.