At the Tuesday open meeting of the county commissioners, we learned the county assessor's office embraces more information technology and Phelps - Maries County Health Department walks a red line budget
The county assessor’s office embraces more information technology
1. Getting the County Assessor Bill Stoltz’s department budget approved by the commissioners is a two-step process. According to County Clerk Pam Grow, the state tax commission wants the county assessor’s maintenance plan by the end of December, but the State auditor doesn’t want the budget until the actuals (numbers) are approved by the commission. So, Assessor Stoltz had time to give his budget another look, he made some changes and was back again to seek the final budget approval.
“The main thing I had changed from before was my computer expense is going to be a little higher,” he said. Stoltz explained the expense was for the purchase of a couple of tablets to be use in their field work. He decreased his computer software expense to help make up some of the difference, spreading that cost over two years.
Commissioner Hicks said the line item was still $15,000 higher from the previous year.
“$7,500 of that is to develop an off-line mapping app,” Stoltz explained. “This will allow them (his field assessors) to have our GIS (information from the general database) on the tablet follow them with no internet connection. It’s a one-time expense.”
Stoltz explained one tablet would be used for the city and one for the county. He said when the field assessors come back to the office, they can sync parcel information under assessment with their GIS system to keep all the maps updated. Some of the information at the assessor’s fingertips are names, addresses, reason for visit, etc.
“It works just like your Garmin (global positioning device), but it will have our aerial photography,” said Stoltz. “It basically helps them navigate and find what they need to find. There are a couple of ways to do it cheaper, but they just don’t work. We’ve been messing around with that for the last four years.”
Stoltz says this global positioning app is already being used in other counties and he has seen demonstrations.
After the presentation, Commissioner Larry Stratman made a motion to approve the budget and it was seconded by Commissioner Hicks.
Phelps - Maries County Health Department walks a red line budget
2. Phelps - Maries County Health Department (PCHD) Director Ashley Wann presented the department’s budget proposal to the commissioners. It can best be summarized as trying to maintain with fewer financial resources. PCHD has endured cuts from both federal and state programs and they will be losing Your Community Health Center, as a rent-paying tenant in May of this year. In spite of these setbacks, Director Wann has hired a new nurse and is still hopeful she can fill another vacancy—a nutritionist.
“I have the money in WIC to hire the new nutritionist,” she said.
Actual revenues for 2017 were $863,781 and the 2018 requested amount is $787,485. Of this amount, only $80,000 ($90,000 is proposed) is transferred from the county’s general operating budget—the rest is from federal and state grants, such as:
WIC program ……………………………………….. $231,210
Maternal and Child Health ………………………… $46,302
Child Care Consultations ………………………….. $7,507
Home Visitation …………………………………….. $75,466
Child Care Inspections/Licenses ………………… $4,100
Emergency planning ………………………………. $46,277
With other revenues such as PCCAN Child Advocacy Network and health insurance reimbursements, plus Phelps County taxpayer’s contribution of $80,000 to $90,000, total revenues are estimated to be $787,485.
2018 expenditures are expected to be $828,174, a decrease of $14,381 from the 2017 actual expenditure of $842,555. There were proposed increases in annual salaries—$556,000 vs. $526,897 (spent in 2017) and fringe benefits—$202,291 vs $165,128 (spent in 2017). Most of this increase is contained in the county share put towards insurance for current employees and retirees.
In the “maintenance and improvements” part of the budget, $3,000 was requested for an upgrade in software for 10 computers.
It should be noted that expenditures associated with particular programs like Mo. Foundation for Health are monies received through grants, though still counted as expenditures to fulfill the purpose of the grant.
That leaves a budget picture of a negative $40,689, which would eat into the $269,879 of cash on hand at the end of 2017.
Commissioner Gary Hicks asked,”So you’re bringing us a budget that’s got red ink?”
“Pretty much,” answered Director Wann.
Looking at the whole budget, Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp said (or asked for confirmation), “You’ve got balances to cover your short-fall . . .”
“I just know I’ve got to play hard to find money,” answered the director.