Elbert County Finishes 2017 Strong
On December 20th, in the last regular meeting of the year, the Commissioners took several actions that place the county on a positive path for 2018.
With only a few minor changes associated with end of year spending that has occurred since last month's public hearings, they approved the budget for the coming year. The budget recognizes increased revenues and applies them to improving services to our citizens and ensuring stability in the future. Even with a nearly $1 million increase in total expenditures and transfers when compared to the 2017 adopted budget (and nearly $5 million in dedicated contingency and stability funds to guard against future economic downturns or other emergencies), overall fund balances are expected to nearly double in the next year.
To put this in to perspective, the budgeted fund balance carried over in at the end of 2015 provided approximately 3 WEEKS of reserve funding. The county will see a 3 MONTH reserve (in addition to the new emergency funds) at the end of 2018. Not only does this show we have turned away from the fiscal cliff but, the county will increase its Road & Bridge department personnel by 10% and other key citizen service centers such as the DMV and Building Departments will also see increased personnel to better serve our public. (A copy of the 2018 budget can be found here: http://www.elbertcounty-co.gov/budget_information.php).
One of the first policy changes undertaken by the board in February was completed. After months of revisions based on public input, a policy regarding advertising of vacancies and the process for appointment to various boards, committees and commissions that assist the Commissioners in meeting the goals of the county was approved. The policy provides an opportunity for the county to maximize the benefits gained from the expertise, professional experience, and perspectives of our citizens. In the past there has been mystery surrounding this process and the Commissioners felt it important to ensure the appointment process for these bodies is completely open and transparent. Once fully implemented, this policy will ensure the broadest possible representation of our citizens on these boards, committees and commissions. (A copy of the approved policy can be found here: http://www.elbertcounty-co.gov/bocc_policies.php).
Also addressed at this meeting was an authorization for the County Manager to execute the sale of the "Hoo House" - this residence behind Hoo Motors has been used for many years for record storage and meetings conducted by Health & Human Services. With the purchase of the Samuel Elbert Building earlier this year, the asset is no longer needed and this sale will return over $200 thousand to the county to further improve current facilities that serve our citizens.
The Commissioners also received a very welcomed report on 4H activities from several young Clover Buds and a graduating senior with 13 years in 4H. Very remarkable young citizens. In this last meeting of the year, the Commissioners chose to recognize the importance of our local press in ensuring an informed citizenry and presented certificates to reporters Beth Shelly (Ranchland News) and Jodi Horner (Elbert County News), and to Susan Bishop of the Prairie Times.
We wish all of our citizens and safe and Merry Christmas and look forward to a strong 2018!