BY MELANIE BUCK –
Polk County government and the services that fall under its umbrella will operate on a budget of more than $7.5 million in 2017, with $4.3 million of that in County General Expenses.
Many of the departments within the County General Expense system stayed very close to their previous years’ budgets, keeping their expenditures as minimal as possible. The County Judge’s Office will have a budget of $97,039.43, which includes payroll, supplies, equipment costs, and other general operating expenses.
The County Clerk Office has a budget of $205,288.26; Circuit Clerk, a budget of $176,169.49; County Treasurer, $107,181.45; Tax Collector Office, $204,099; and County Assessor, $241,660.85; Polk County Quorum Court, $97,455.
The Building Maintenance account is designated $207,031.84. One of the biggest decreases in the budget is in the Election Department. In 2016, $128,000 was budgeted, however, that included a general election year. For 2017, election expenses are expected to drop to less than $6,000, and the account holds $5,451.50 in their projected budget.
The Polk County Office Complex is budgeted $70,421.08 for their expenses for 2017, which includes salaries, utilities, and normal operating expenses.
The County Road account is one of the largest in the county, being responsible for more than 1,300 miles of county roads and dozens of bridges. A total of $367,000 has been reserved for roads, remaining the same as the 2016 budget request.
The legal systems of the county hold some of the largest requests in the General budget. The Sheriff’s Department requested a budget of $868,524; Circuit Court, $64,838; District Court, $230,781.51; County Juvenile Office, $140,258.27; School Resource Officers, $143,817; Prosecuting Attorney Office, $172,473.27; and the County Jail, $407,629.
The Office of Emergency Management requested $102,472.28; Rural Volunteer Fire Department Fund, $83,800; Veteran’s Service Office, $74,150.76; County Extension Office, $70,546.
The County Road Department adds $2,234,387 to the 2017 budget. The Polk County Library requested $79,450; and E911 Services, $214,193.60.
County Judge Brandon Ellison said, “The county budget is a very complicated document comprised of dozens of internal budgets. To make it easier to visualize, think of it broken down into three areas. The County General Budget, the Road and Bridge Budget, and Special Funds Budget. Operations for the jail, law enforcement, building maintenance, record keeping, etc., are funded through the general budget. Road and bridge operations are paid from the road and bridge budget. Operations that are considered special include many judicial district and state mandated functions such as, public defender, juvenile intake, and other court operations. Some other special budgets are drug task force, law library, E-911, Sheriff’s drug control, county library, etc. Many of the special budgets are partially or fully grant funded and this type of funding varies from year to year, making continuity of the programs difficult to manage. Primarily, county government is charged with providing basic services and that is what the vast majority of available funds are used for.”