The Newton County Commission will begin the annual budget process next week, Presiding Commissioner Marilyn Ruestman said.
“We will meet individually with all department heads and office holders,” Ruestman said. “We are hoping that sales tax revenues will hold at the same level as last year’s numbers or will rise a little.”
Anticipated revenue for the 2013 fiscal year budget was just over $8.16 million, with a carryover of nearly $1.7 million. Expenditures were budgeted in that budget at $9.4 million. Expenditures for the 2014 budget will be determined in sessions with department heads and office holders in the coming weeks.
Ruestman said one of the challenges in the budget process this year is rising insurance costs. She said the commission has had many discussions on the rising costs of all types of insurance, ranging from liability coverage to employee health insurance.
“We have these large insurance increases, and that will be a real factor in budgeting next year,” she said.
Ruestman said perhaps an anticipated small rise in revenues would offset the increased insurance costs, but said it was too early in the budget process to know for sure.
Currently, the commission is expecting a surcharge of $20 for every employee opting for health insurance, while premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are also expected to rise. She said the commission has been exploring its options for health care for county employees.
“We have spent a lot of time sitting around the table talking about health care,” she said.
In other business, the commission plans a ribbon cutting for 1 p.m. today at Tiger Bridge, located on Tiger Road in Stark City. Kenneth Sturgeon, who recalls the original bridge being built more than 80 years ago, will be on hand Thursday to cut the ribbon for the new bridge.
The commission is also reviewing the county employee policy manual. Ruestman said she expects to have the review and changes, if any, in place by the first of the year.
The county is also working to improve its website, www.newtoncountymo.com.
Ruestman said the website now includes photos of county road construction. The latest updates include work on Lark Road between Routes FF and V; Bethel Road north of Seneca; Norway Road south of Monarch Drive; and Newton Road west of Highway 37.