CommunityPolitics

Christmas bonuses to be revisited December 11

2019 county budget said to be 'workable' after cuts

Rick Kennedy, managing editor
The much-talked about County employee Christmas bonuses will be revisited at the December 11 meeting of the Hempstead County Quorum Court, it was announced during a special meeting Monday night of the Quorum Court’s Finance Committee.
The yearly measure, which has annually paid Hempstead County employees at $500 Christmas bonus, originally failed to muster a “supermajority” at last week’s November meeting, but will be brought up again, the Quorum Court’s Finance Chairman Ed Darling confirmed after a two-and-a-half hour budget session Monday.
“We worked through our cash flows; I spent the afternoon with our County Treasurer, and worked through our cash flow and our projections of where we’re going to end this year, and it appears we have adequate cash flows and the money is in the budget to cover those bonuses,” Darling said.
“So, at the next meeting, I will give notice of reconsideration on the vote on that ordinance, and we’ll revote it,” he said.
With Hempstead County employing approximately 135 full-persons, an updated number confirmed Monday during the budget session, the “Christmas bonuses” will cost local taxpayers approximately $67,500.
Darling said the “Christmas bonuses” were a separate issue in a separate budget than the upcoming 2019 County budget that was discussed much of the evening.
As the session started, the County was initially announced as having “a $3.4 million budget against $3.3 million in revenues,” but by the end of Monday night’s session — and a series of cuts, mainly to the County Jail — Darling said he was satisfied that the County had a “workable budget that we can function with over the next year” that met the requirements of being balanced to within 90-percent of revenues.
“We have budget, but we are so dependent on the way our revenues come in; we get our different payments at different times of the year, and those fluctuate greatly,” he said, “We are going to need a little luck.”
Darling said that October and November, when the property taxes come in, are the county’s biggest source of revenue.
In other news from Monday’s budget session, one jail expense that wasn’t cut, but needed to be increased, was the food budget at $150,000; during his testimony to the budget committee, Sheriff James Singleton said that the jail had served a record 78,000 meals in 2018, over the 63,000 served a year ago.
The Finance Committee also heard from small-town mayors, McCaskill Mayor Marion Hoosier and Washington Mayor Paul Henley, and although certain ideas were exchanged about county “matching grants” and grant writers, no resolution was reached during the mayors’ testimony.
On Tuesday, December 11, the Hempstead Quorum Court will have a final budget review at 5 p.m. followed immediately by its regular December meeting.

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