After approving a 2017 budget earlier this month that mirrored the 2016 budget but only included County General spending, the Jefferson County Quorum Court on Thursday approved an amended document reflecting money from other sources.
The amended budget was adopted without opposition by 11 of the 13 members of the county’s legislative body. Justices of the Peace Roy Agee and Delton Wright were missing from the special called meeting.
Originally, the Quorum Court had been expected to consider a mass of ordinances listing specific items, such as a $1,828,340.52 budget from the three-eighths cent Public Safety sales tax, a separate ordinance for the Jefferson County Road Fund, a $1.55 million budget for the Juvenile Justice Center and others.
But Justice of the Peace Ted Harden, co-chairman of the court’s Finance Committee, said he had worked with Jefferson County Attorney Jackie Harris and County Clerk Shawndra Taggart to consolidate all the separate ordinances into one.
“This just cleans up what we did previously and all the budgets are within the 90 percent guidelines that we have to abide by,” Harden said.
Expenditures for 2017 will include $3.622 million for the road department, $1.810 million for MECA (Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association), $60,000 to cover jury fees, $638,448 for juvenile justice education (which is funded by the state), and $98,420 for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Victim-Witness program (which is funded by a grant).
The county projects that it will receive $1,828 million from the Public Safety sales tax, with $200,000 of that designated for rural fire protection, $828,340 for the sheriff’s office and $800,000 for the juvenile detention center.
One of the provisions of the ordinance approved Thursday provides that all county offices are authorized to fill existing positions that are funded in their budgets, thereby eliminating the hiring freeze that had been in effect since former County Judge Dutch King imposed it.
Also included in the ordinance is a provision that nothing will prohibit the continuance of any existing program funded entirely, or in part by state or federal funds, including appropriations where local matching funds are required.
At Harris’ request, the ordinance was amended to allow the county treasurer to transfer funds, such as public safety sales tax monies, into various funds, including the jail and juvenile detention center accounts.
Justice of the Peace Dr. Conley Byrd asked Harden if the numbers had been double and triple checked to ensure that they have not been changed from last year’s budget. Harden said they had.
“This budget just supersedes the budget we previously passed,” Harden said.