Jasper county frustrated by state debt, tightens 2019 budget proposal

Retirement increase included
Jasper county frustrated by state debt, tightens 2019 budget proposal
Jasper county budget proposed, available for review

Jasper county’s proposed budget for 2019 is $46,365,567 dollars. About two point six million more than last year but the auditor wants that in reserves. Richard Webster, the county auditor, has concerns over money owed the county. “Your concern is always you project this money hope it comes in to pay for everything.”

For Webster, the 2019 budget is similar to last years in spending but when it comes to revenues coming in, he said the state of Missouri already owes the county nearly a half million dollars. That’s for housing inmates at the Jasper county jail who are headed to state prison.
Webster said, “The law says they pay us up to 35 dollars a day we’ve never gotten that. They’ve always set it at a certain rate and we’re at the mercy of when they want to pay us.” Reimbursements from the Missouri Department of Corrections depend on appropriations from the state legislature.

Jasper county Sheriff Randee Kaiser said the reality is worse. “So, really what we get is 23 dollars a day for reimbursement. It costs considerably more than that.” That is when reimbursement comes at all. Webster complained, “They’re way behind up there.”

County treasurer Denise Rohr said the state’s last payment was in October at nearly 185 thousand dollars. But since then another 86 thousand in costs have accrued. Bills still have to be paid. Rohr said, “It is kind of a robbing Peter to pay Paul because this money is not here so we do have to compensate for it. That is something we have to always try to plan ahead and always try to have a little carry over to cover this. But you know at 487 thousand (dollars), it’s going to hurt a little bit.”

The sheriff doesn’t believe the state will ever get caught up especially with jail overcrowding a continuous problem. But the state is also promising to support efforts to reduce jail populations including funding for pre-trial release programs which are already successful in the county. Sheriff Kaiser said, “It allows us to get reimbursed for people we’re monitoring while they’re on pre-trial release at a little bit lower rate than incarceration rate.” But he admitted there’s no guarantee the state will be good at reimbursing any better there.

Webster said it’s a tight budget like last year and state reimbursements would help immensely. “If we had all that money, we’d have money to spare.”

The budget includes estimated costs and potential revenues from the new juvenile detention center. Utilities are estimated at 68 thousand dollars and total costs at about 200 thousand. But Webster said opening the center up to other counties will generate revenue. Plus, the county will no longer have to pay to detain juveniles outside the county once the new detention center is open something that cost the county 80 thousand dollars last year.

The proposed jasper county budget includes more retirement dollars for county workers. Webster said commissioners raised the local government employees retirement system or lagers from an L-12 to an L-6 which is about two percent of an employee’s highest salary times the year of service.

The budget is available for review and must be approved by the commission January 10th.