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County budget would add positions

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 SHEPHERDSVILLE – With a budget projecting to carry forward over $4 million from the current fiscal year, Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts is hoping to add a pair of key positions to her administration.

Roberts presented magistrates with the 2013-14 proposed budget on Thursday during a special meeting.

The $20.7 million budget would be an increase of $1.3 million over the current fiscal financial plan, which ends on June 30.

In presenting magistrates the budget, Roberts said she hoped they would approve the document which must be in Frankfort by June 30.

Her only request was that if the magistrates make any changes, they should also balance the budget as her staff does not have the time to make sure everything balances.

“We feel comfortable that these are good numbers,” said deputy judge Lisa Craddock, who oversees compiling the budget with Roberts.

For employees, the highlight of the budget would be a proposed 50-cent per hour increase for all workers.

Roberts said with the carryover, the money is available and the employees deserve the increase.

Aside from the pay increases, Roberts’ budget includes several items which she has advocated in the past.

A county finance officer is proposed at a rate of $75,000. This person would be in charge of his or her own department and the appointee must be approved by fiscal court.

“Bullitt County can’t afford to not have finance officer,” said Roberts.

Although the financial situation in the county appears solid, Roberts said it could be in even better shape by cutting any waste and taking the advice of a financial expert.

Another position, which has gained some community support lately, is for a planner.

The person would work in the county’s planning and zoning office and the salary would be in the area of $60,000-$70,000.

Roberts said the revision of the comprehensive land-use plan makes it the perfect time to add this professional position to county government.

Another major change to this year’s budget is the appropriation of $150,000 for the economic development authority.

In past budgets, Roberts included no money for that agency, which is independent of county government but does receive a majority of its funding from fiscal court.

The magistrates have already changed the judge’s budget to include $100,000-$115,000 to the agency which is charged with bringing commercial and industrial development to the county.

In making the decision to make the money available in her budget, Roberts said that with a new executive director and two new board members to the authority, she felt there was much more accountability and transparency in EDA.

Despite the lack of funding in the past, Roberts said she has always supported the creation of more jobs.

Another area of discussion in the past has been the funding for the county attorney’s office.

Recently, county attorney Monica Robinson made a plea to at least keep her funding at the current level. Otherwise, services would have to be cut.

In Roberts’ budget, the county attorney’s office would receive $372,118, an increase of over $111,000 over the current year.

Roberts said the county attorney’s office must be funded. She said to serve the people of the county, the office must be properly staffed and funded.

The sheriff’s department will have its health insurance paid by the county. But Craddock said that is really no additional funding as it is a product of the new way fees are collected and bills paid.

With the county population exceeding 75,000, the sheriff’s office and the county clerk’s office have undergone changes in their operations.

In the parks and recreation budget, a line item of $40,000 has been set up as a contribution to the YMCA to cover losses it suffers in the operation of county programs.

The county budget would place $140,000 in the coffers to finish off the renovations for the Saltwell Drive building. Craddock said this would allow the Central Dispatch to be moved to that facility.

Animal control would be allowed to keep an employee who has been working under a grant program.

The only other big change in the budget will be the money needed for insurance coverage

Craddock said the county has been alerted of major increases in worker’s comp and general liability policies. Insurance premiums in the general fund are expected to be up at least $200,000. Retirement benefits will also see an increase in the coming fiscal year.

The reserve account would have $637,000.

The first reading of the budget is planned for the May 21 meeting with final approval on June 4.