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Finance Committee approves county’s 2018 budget

Proposal to go to Quorum Court next week

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The Union County Finance Committee went through the details of the proposed budget for 2018 in a meeting Thursday.

Sixty-seven funds and departments were looked over and approved to be presented to the Union County Quorum Court.

The budget for 2017 was roughly $23.5 million, but current actuals show the total spending is roughly $17.8 million.

The proposed budget for 2018 is about $22.6 million, a decrease of more than $900,000 from last year.

Most of the money for the 2018 budget is going toward health insurance and grant funds. However, there are a few departments that saw changes in their budgets apart from those two categories.

With 2018 being an election year, there is an increase of about $110,000 for the county election budget. Most of the money is for printing, supplies and ballots for elections.

The industrial waste budget is down by about $103,000 as no new trucks will be needed in 2018. They are also working more efficiently, with picking up garbage a day late on holiday weeks, rather than completely skipping those places until the following week.

The sheriff’s office is asking for an increase of around $86,000, which would bring their budget to around $2.6 million. The sheriff’s office is asking to increase their staff by three additional deputies, which will increase their patrol shifts to five deputies per shift, allowing more county coverage.

“With the increase of calls for service and the vast coverage of this county, there is a need for additional staffing,” said Union County Sheriff Ricky Roberts in a letter. “By adding the additional staff, it will allow better coverage and quicker response time when responding to emergency calls.”

To offset the costs, the office will be eliminating a part-time deputy position, currently budgeted at $20,000 per year. A clerk’s position also would be eliminated, budgeted at around $25,000 per year before benefits.

There is also a $2,000 increase for the K-9 unit budget. There are currently four K-9s on staff that require vet care and dog food.

The county jail is asking for around $134,000, with $85,000 of the funding going toward jail improvements. These improvements include replacing worn out cell locks, upgrading the control board and adding timers to the water usage.

“Although the added funding will not cover all needed jail improvements, we would like to start making said improvements in stages over the next few years,” Roberts said.

The proposed budget will be presented to the Union County Quorum Court at 10 a.m. Thursday on the third floor of the Union County Courthouse.

Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or krigdon@eldoradonews.com.

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