The Baker County Commission voted 4-1 last week to make about $1.6 million in retroactive changes to the 2011-12 budget that ended September 30.
Most of the sum, $1.4 million, consisted of amendments needed to reflect over-budget spending in a number of areas. The remaining amount, $238,407, were transfers of expenses from one area of the budget to another.
The county is required by law to have a budget that reflects actual spending down to the departmental level.
“What is this?” asked Commissioner Adam Giddens when the matter came up at the board’s regulator meeting November 20.
A few minutes later he would cast the lone vote against two resolutions making 20 transfers and six amendments to the budget.
County Manager C.J. Thompson responded saying the transfers represent moving funds from one area of the budget to another to reflect actual spending.
Early this week he elaborated further regarding $36,080 in transfers from money set aside in the general fund to cover the county’s share of Medicaid costs.
Mr. Thompson said the county had budgeted $400,000 for Medicaid, but thanks to a deal struck between the state and Florida counties this year on the sum counties still owed for Medicaid, the county didn’t need all of the money it budgeted.
The budgetary savings, therefore, could be redirected to offset costs in solid waste and professional services budgets, which the transfers did.
The general fund’s $150,000 contingency budget, which was completely drained, was the source for 63 percent of the transfers.
The largest transfer, $59,420, went from contingency to solid waste. It was needed to account for higher-than-expected engineering costs at the closed Steel Bridge Road landfill.
The $1,412,571 in budget amendments presented to commissioners showed over-budget expenditures were offset largely by grant funding or “cash forward,” the money left unspent in a particular fund at the end of the fiscal year.
The county’s total budget rose from $27,414,337 to $28,846,158 due to the amendments, the biggest of which was for $556,560.
Revenue to cover that cost overrun came from a federal Department of Homeland Security grant to buy new radios and equipment to upgrade communications for the county fire department and emergency medical services (EMS).
Another sizeable amendment — $424,715 — was needed in the fine and forfeiture fund for costs associated with the housing of local inmates at the county jail.
That overrun was due to more local prisoners than anticipated landing in jail. Mr. Thompson said the county budgeted for an average of 120 inmates per day, but in reality the daily average was more than 130 for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
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