Following Tuesday's regular meeting, the council reconvened its budget hearings to put the final touches on the 2010 budget.
After being faced with a decision on whether to go into next year with a minimal operating balance and cut deep into the Rainy Day Fund, or evaluate the county's staffing, Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh came across some additional funding that was not expected.
"In the latest round of County Adjusted Gross Income Tax (CAGIT), there was funding available through Property Tax Replacement in the amount of $281,436," Alumbaugh told The Brazil Times. "Now this is not connected to the Property Tax Replacement Credit (PTRC) residents were able to apply for up until this year, it is collected as a portion of the CAGIT distribution to be used directly for property tax relief."
Alumbaugh admitted the funding came as a total shock.
"I did not think we would get this with the (PTRC) being taken out of the equation this year," she said. "If we had known this was coming, we would have added it to our miscellaneous income the county anticipates to receive in 2010."
Nevertheless, the additional income made the decision for the council a little easier as they only had to compensate for a nearly $500,000 shortfall, rather than more than $770,000.
To balance the budget for 2010, the council unanimously approved motions to reduce the operating balance from $500,000 to $250,000, cut the allotted amount for additional appropriations to $50,000 for the rest of 2009, and cut a pair of line items from separate sections of the General Fund.
The line item for Katherine Hamilton ($100,255) -- which is the county's mental health provider -- and the Sheriff's Pension line item were respectively cut from the Commissioners and Sheriff's budgets, and both items will be paid through the Rainy Day Fund for one year only.
While the budget was balanced, council members recognized next year would not be easier unless something is done to create new income sources.
"Things will still be tight and a lot of things have to happen to make this work," council member Larry Moss said. "We have to hope something major doesn't happen and something big doesn't break."
Council President Mike McCullough added the thought of instituting a Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) has moved from the back burner to an inevitable reality.
"The Rainy Day Fund really saved us this year, and unless we pass a LOIT, I don't know what we will do next year," McCullough said. "But, I do want to emphasize that a LOIT won't be to save jobs, it is necessary to save the county, and it will help all the taxing units as well."
In other business conducted during the regular portion of Tuesday's meeting, the Clay County Council:
* Approved numerous additional appropriations in the 2009 budget including $25,000 for the purchase of a new jail transport vehicle, $4,750 from the Commissioners portion of the General Fund for the resealing of the Clay County Justice Center Parking lot and a total of $240 across five separate funds for the purposes of paying bank fees. Another requested $19,500 in the Cumulative Capital Development Fund for the restoration of the columns in the courthouse and Treasurer's Office, was rejected at the request of Commissioner Charlie Brown who said, "It may be better to hold off on that for now and keep monitoring the status of the cracks in the columns,"
* Approved reductions of $100,000 in the Highway Fund, $24,500 in the Prosecutor's Deferral Fund and $7,089 in the Clay City License Branch Fund. The reduction in the Highway Fund was used to compensate for an additional appropriation of the same amount for stone, gravel and bituminous, while the reductions in the other two funds came from multiple line items to help balance both budgets for 2010, and
* Conducted the first reading of two resolutions for tax abatements for BioEnergy Power, LLC, which plans to begin construction of an electrical energy facility by the end of the year. Construction of the plant, which will utilize wood waste to create steam-generated energy, is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2010.
A public hearing and final action on the matter will take place during the October council meeting.
The next meeting of the Clay County Council will be 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5, in the Commissioners' Courtroom of the Clay County Courthouse. Final action will also be taken on the county's 2010 budget as well as a non-binding review of budgets from all the other taxing units.