The Ottumwa Courier

January 25, 2013

Supervisors continue work on budget puzzle

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The first round of meetings has been completed, but that doesn’t mean the Wapello County Board of Supervisors are done with next year’s budget.

“Now we know where everybody stands on requests and they’ve been extremely reasonable in those requests,” said Supervisor Jerry Parker.

He noted there might be no increase in taxes for a fourth year in a row because “things are in place that could allow us to do that.”

In the process, the county could resurface the Eldon to Floris Road, Bluegrass Road and a big portion of Competine Road. They would also have to do some preliminary work, such as buying the property and doing the planning for Rock Bluff Road.

“We may be able to do all those things and still have no increase in taxes,” he said.

Putting a budget together is like working on a puzzle, and the supervisors know every facet of the budget. In working on the budget they know doing something in one area can affect another area of the budget, Parker said.

“We can complete the puzzle and get the job done for minimal cost,” he said.

Parker also credited the years of service the three supervisors have served on the county board. Steve Siegel has served since 1997, Parker since 1999, and Greg Kenning since 2007.

“We know what we do and how it affects the other parts of the budget,” Parker said. “Like when we consider a bond issue, it will result in debt service at a higher property tax levy.”

The action may save money in other parts of the budget where “lower is greater.” A lower tax asking could mean more work is getting done, he added.

Parker said the budgets don’t have all the same options available every year. It depends on what the county needs and what it costs.

The first round of budget meetings is done, and the  supervisors will need more. Why? Because they have to make sure the department heads have checked everything, including all equipment.

Calling himself an “optimist,” Parker said the county’s leaders must verify all dates. He spoke of a bond issue the county did for 87th Street — old U.S. Highway 34.

Because of the interest rates then, the county was able to refinance the project and directed advisors to do so. But the supervisors wanted to save $60,000, which came in with the funding for four road projects, which was a minimal amount of money, according to Parker.

During the second round of budget work, the supervisors worked on what they discussed with department heads. They asked all the managers if what they said in earlier meetings was acceptable or not.

“The department heads have been very frugal in their askings and have had less time to do so,” Parker said. “Now I have to get more figures for the bonding people and do more paperwork things.”