Sales tax revenue rises aiding budget revenue

Sunday, January 22, 2012

NEW MADRID -- After a year of recovery and renovations, New Madrid County Clerk Clement Cravens is looking forward to a quiet year in regards to the county's budget.

"It will be business as usual," said Cravens, adding, "Though it never really is usual."

Despite incurring some major expenses in 2011, New Madrid County ended its fiscal year with a cash balance of $3,339,906.22. This was $85,488.20 more than was on hand at the beginning of 2011, and a far better outcome than the deficit originally predicted in last year's budget message.

According to Cravens, 2011's expenditures were $520,000 less than appropriations. Revenues were also higher than expected, he said.

The lower expenses were due to an allocation of $375,000 from the Missouri Department of Transportation for use at the county's airport, which was not awarded during the past year. The county also did not have to use any of the money ($140,000) it is required to set aside for an emergency fund and supplemental health insurance benefits were not expended.

"In addition, a significant portion of the unspent appropriations can be attributed to county officeholders and department heads exercising a high priority of need before making expenditures from their budgets," Cravens wrote in his 2012 budget message.

The 2012 budget, which the county commission signed off on Jan. 12, does project a deficit. Cravens estimates general revenues at $5,024,292.81 and expenses of $5,611,608.68 producing a deficit of $587,315.87 at the end of the year.

However, the clerk pointed out, his budget tends to estimate revenues conservatively and overestimate expenses in certain areas in case of unforeseen expenditures. "The actual deficit spending in this fund for fiscal year 2012 should be less than $140,000," he said.

The bright spot of the 2011 budget, according to Cravens was the rebounding of the funds from the county's sales tax. Sales tax revenues in 2011 increased by approximately $140,000 to nearly $3 million, a level he foresees this year as well.

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