Sheriff’s office biggest expense as out-of-county inmate costs continue to pile up
Canadian County’s general fund revenue is on the rise, but not without growing pains. In a publishing sheet released by county officials, the total general fund budget has increased from last year.
The general budget fund for fiscal year 2017 is just above $19.1 million, putting it over the general fund budget from fiscal year 2016, which was approximately $17.5 million. County commission chairman David Anderson said the county is fortunate to be growing and able to meet expenses.
“Our budget went up because revenue went up,” he said.
The largest portion of the budget goes to the county sheriff’s department. The sheriff’s office declared estimate of needs increased by more than $440,000. The change is due to out-of-county inmate expenses, which drastically grew from the prior year of $144,000 to $394,000.
“It’s a struggle sometimes for people to understand spending so much on prison care,” Anderson said. “We are one of the only counties to build onto our jail without a sales tax.”
Another change in this year’s budget can be found in the reserve funds which saw an increase from 8 to 9 percent. Anderson said the county is trying to be conservative with spending and making an effort to grow the county reserve fund.
Even with a surplus rise from $4.4 million to $4.9 million, Anderson said the county will not likely see any new capital improvement projects from the general fund budget this year. The county is still making payments on jail construction, he noted.
Other departments whose estimates of needs increased significantly over last year included the county clerk’s office, which increased by $91,000, and the court clerk’s office, which increased by $65,000.
Shelley Dickerson, Canadian County clerk, said the fluctuation can be attributed to several changes including benefits, retirement, and the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll tax.
The FY 2017 general budget fund must be approved by the excise board to be formally accepted.