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Budget fouled up‏

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This has been a busy month so far. For the last couple of months county officers have been dealing with the county budget.  Unlike the real world, the Oklahoma Legislature designed the county budget system to be cumbersome and work backwards. We operate off a fiscal year, July 1-June 30.  It seems nothing should be wrong with that. Until we have to wait for the surrounding counties to submit valuations and for the State Budget Board to do valuations on state assets.  Then we get valuations in for the county which are multiplied by a millage.

Mark Sharpton
Now for a look back at the funding sources that produce annual usable revenue.  Some of the money in various offices of the county is only usable for its intended use.  In other words, we do not have the right to rob from Peter to pay Paul. Logan County valuations have been going up, along with growth. Growth brings more revenue most new developments build new homes worth more than a lot of older homes. I have only seen a new development built with old homes once, so it does happen.  Along with the growth comes demand on all offices. The more people, the more demand for sheriff patrolling, more papers to be filed in the County Clerk’s Office, and more tax statements sent out of the Treasurer’s office. The assessor has to inspect more homes.  My point is that growth comes with a cost of having to do more with the amount brought in, but not in the same time frame as the growth. So the county is always behind the ball.

In the perfect world, Logan revenues went up by $232,863.85 this year, from $2,639,116.10  to $2,871,979.95 of estimated collections. That sounds good driving by at a distance. But when you go back to the “estimated” collections, it means Logan County does not get that money until tax statements go out and are paid by December 31 , with some paying half and the other half by March 1. Yes, you read that correctly, we operate for 6 months on a hope and promise that taxes will be paid. Please keep in mind this is a fast and simplistic budget overview. But on occasion, mistakes happen and one happened last year. A hired consultant and I had some numbers that were not correct. I include myself because although I did not consolidate the numbers for the budget, the consultant did. I did not reconcile the numbers myself  and so the “estimated” collection amount was in error. It was reported to the Board of County Commissioners, and then to the Excise Board, and then to the Public as $1,321,203.46 long. The way it works is, all offices turn in an “Estimate of Needs.” If the money “looks” available it is allocated by law to Constitutional Offices first, descending all the way to the “legally” least important fund, the Highway Levy Account. Not to be mistaken with the monthly allocated and protected Highway Money.  That’s what happened last year, so this year we all have to tighten up and the County had to reimburse what was over allocated in the previous year. All of the County Officers have been working very hard to resolve the issues, including hiring a consultant more familiar with County Government. We will all be more vigilant in the future and check all the numbers ourselves multiple times.

Mark Sharpton
Commissioner
Logan County District 1
405.282.3581
http://www.marksharpton.com
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