Thursday, May 20, 2004

Boone spending plan ready

Projects already under way are to be completed in 2004-05

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BURLINGTON - Boone County taxpayers won't see new projects or new county employees in the next fiscal year.

The county's budget for 2004-05 contains few increases and focuses on paying for projects already under way.

The total spending plan for the next fiscal year is $95 million, almost $12 million less than last year's. The operating budget is $46.9 million, a 10 percent increase over last year's operating budget of $42.6 million.

"There's really not much of a change from prior years," said Lisa Buerkley, the county treasurer. "We are completing a few capital projects that we began years ago."

The budget includes $8.5 million for completion of the $26.5 million Public Safety Center, which includes a new jail and sheriff's office.

There is $50,000 for the design of a new Petersburg Community Center. The county hopes to get a grant for the $1 million construction.

The Tri-City YMCA, which the county bought last year and has renamed the Boone County Community and Recreation Center, will get $70,000 for a new roof.

The budget also contains $12,000 to develop a master plan for a new Union Park. The county will also pay the YMCA $450,000, the remainder of a payment for buying Tri-City and Union Pool and allowing Boone County residents to use a new pool at R.C. Durr YMCA.

The only road projects included in the budget are carried over from last year. Those include widening Industrial Road, and building a new road for Gateway Community and Technical College and a new South Airfield Road.

The budget also includes $5 million for expanding water lines to rural areas.

This year, the county's tax revenue, which funds 77 percent of the county's budget, is increasing.

Property tax revenue will increase about 5.6 percent to $6.7 million. The increase is due to the county's growth because the tax rate is slated to remain the same.

Boone County is the second-fastest-growing county in the state and the 80th-fastest-growing in the country.

For 2004-05, the county is predicting that revenues from the payroll tax will increase by $1 million to $14.5 million. Last year, payroll revenues increased only $165,000.

"The business climate is starting to improve," said Jim Parsons, county administrator.

One of the biggest increases is in the sheriff's department budget. Though there will be no new deputies hired, the budget increased $1.2 million to $7.3 million to pay for raises.

The county is saving $400,000 because it decided to privatize Maplewood Children's Home, the children's emergency shelter. The state paid the county to house children placed there by the Cabinet for Children and Families, but the reimbursement fell $400,000 short last year.

Fiscal Court will vote on the budget June 22.


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