Op-Ed: Heroin, Other Issues Hit Campbell County Budget
The County budget took a hit this year from heroin costs and we got less money from state gas taxes.
Some of this cost had to be passed on to our tax payers. This is unfortunate because we have been working hard to keep our individual department costs and overhead down, and have been on a four year run of keeping at or below the state calculated rate that keeps our revenue steady (the compensating rate). This has been an unprecedented run for tax control and most of the credit goes to our great county employees. Now, forces outside of our county budget control seemed to have popped up, and cost us money.
This year heroin and unplanned labor costs at the jail went up substantially. In order to keep good deputy jailers working with an increasing and rougher inmate population, the pay rate had to be increased. This cost, combined with other direct heroin costs, added up to an estimated $1,000,000 over what the county had to spend the previous year. County leadership has a plan to combat and overcome the negative effects of heroin, but it will take time, patience, and money.
The gas tax loss originates from the state legislature setting a lower gas tax rate. This cost the county almost $150,000 out of our road paving fund. This is not a hard decision that we must keep our county road maintenance fund solvent. If we don't keep up with re-paving about 10 percent of our road miles each year (we have 192 mi) we risk higher rebuild costs.
This additional money for essential road rebuild now comes from county taxpayers.
So, these costs that are out of our county budget control, cost the average homeowner about $10 more this year. This is not what we desired or planned, sometimes we just have years like this. Some contend that we should operate by taking more from the county reserves, but this may lead to future solvency issues, and is not the way we went. Campbell County still has one of the lowest per capita spending rates in the region.
Brian Painter is a Campbell County Commissioner, elected from District 1