By TERRY GROOVER
Canadian County workers could see an increase in their paychecks come January, after county officials gave tentative approval to the largest budget in its history.
The county’s excise board, which met in tandem with the county commissioners and the other elected officials, recently gave its OK to a $31,092,397 budget.
The budget must still be formally approved by the commissioners and the excise board.
That is expected to happen within the next two weeks, said County Clerk Sherry Murray.
The proposed budget includes a 3% merit pay hike for most county employees, along with an increase in their benefit allowance, a $100 per month increase in family insurance coverage, a $50 hike in deferred compensation and an increase in the county’s capital improvement fund.
In addition, the county will increase the salary of the county election board secretary to $61,645 to match other county officials until the salary is increased to that level by the state.
The budget also sets aside 10% of the budget for its reserve funds.
The raises are expected to take effect in January.
Each of the county officers will decide the amount of pay increases for their employees and will base the amount on the employee’s performance.
The average, said Murray, will be 3%.
Also as part of the proposed budget, the officials has increased its capital improvement project budget by $386,359.
Those funds are used, in part for repairs to the county’s buildings.
However, officials have previously said they want to put some money into a savings account that could be used, at some point, to replace the county courthouse.
Some officials have said the current building is too small to house all the offices that should be in the building.
Today, the facility mainly is home to the court clerk’s office, the district attorney’s office and four judges and their courtrooms.
There also are programs for mediation inside the building.
Administrative offices for the commissioners, treasurer, county school superintendent and county clerk are in a building across the street.
Officials have said they would like to combine all of them into one location.
Most departments submitted budgets that were virtually flat from the previous year, plus the proposed pay increase.
There were a few notable exceptions.
The sheriff’s office’s budget is up $347,000 over the previous year’s budget. Much of that increase is for personal services, and maintenance and operations.
The jail’s budget, however, is down more than $7,000.
Much of the decrease come as a result of sending fewer prisoners to facilities that are out of county. That reduced the budget by $195,000.
The county treasurer’s office will see an increase of $71,783. All ofthat increase is in personal services.
The commissioners’ budget will increase by $33,667 with $16,667 coming in personal services.
The county clerk’s budget is increasing by $58,069 with $55,000 coming in personal services.
Also increasing is the county assessor’s budget, which will go up $65,018. That includes $95,000 increase in maintenance and operations costs, but a $78,000 reduction in contracted services,
Tne visual inspections department will see an increase of $229,376. Most of that increase is the result of higher maintenance and operations. However, the department also will see a decrease of $125,000 in contract services.
The general government budget will increase by $2,938,672 bringing its total to $8,580,230. The largest increases are in the capital outlay reserves and capital improvement projects. Both of those have increased by more than $1.2 million.
The county election board’s budget will increase by $36,286, while the county highway budget is up $25,513.
The new budget is expected to be submitted to the secretary of state by early November.