Baker County commissioners are one step away from adopting a $28.2 million budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year, including a new method of paying for county jail inmate care that officials say will save taxpayers up to $200,000 a year.
The proposed budget was unanimously endorsed during a meeting on the afternoon of September 17, following a workshop to discuss a plan with the City of Macclenny to pave Buck Starling Road adjacent to the 10-acre site of a future public transportation center operated by the Council on Aging.
A final public hearing and adoption of the new spending plan, which holds the line on taxes and fees and was balanced by a roughly $1.5 million transfer from the county’s dwindling reserve fund, is scheduled for 6 pm on October 2 — one day after the new fiscal year begins.
Included in the $28,213,239 budget is $3,782,945 for county jail inmate care, which the commission in the past has paid in advance quarterly payments in exchange for a discount of about $80,000 a year. By paying the entire amount up front, as Sheriff Joey Dobson proposed two weeks ago, officials said the county could save up to an additional $120,000 a year.
After the sheriff pitched his idea to the board on September 4, Commission Chairman Gordon Crews noted that the plan enables the county to balance the budget without having to take quite as much out of reserves to fix a projected $1.6 million deficit.
The additional $120,000 in savings, Mr. Crews said, would require a transfer of only $1.48 million from reserves to balance the budget instead of $1.6 million. As of August 27, the reserve fund held about $7.8 million.