Commissioners question end of year fund transfers

Updated: Jan 7

MOUND CITY – Linn County Clerk David Lamb presented end of the year fund transfers and purchase orders for the approval of the commissioners on Monday, Dec. 20.

County Commission Chair Rick James said that there had to be a better way to do this than at the end of the year.

County Counselor Gary Thompson explained that in a couple of years the county might want to put $600,000 on a bridge but they would not want to raise the budget that much that year. Instead, smaller amounts are put away for several years to get that money together.

Lamb said that when people make these requests that can say what they are for. Thompson said that earmarks them, but the county is not bound by the specific item.

Lamb said that in the case of the health department budget, they were pushing their budget, so he put in the notice of a budget amendment for next week. Because of grants, they had enough cash, but their budget needed to be amended so they could spend it.

Lamb explained the department heads saved throughout the year so they could make larger item purchases after they made sure they had enough budget and cash left.

For example, Register of Deeds Kristy Schmitz put in a purchase order of $9,500 for software maintenance and replication services. Lamb said that he had put in a purchase order of $2,075 for office chairs.

Commissioner Jim Johnson said that he thought that the cost of employee benefits should be in each department’s budget to show the cost to that department.

Lamb said when they paid FICA, KPERS, and other required contributions there was no breakdown by department.

Johnson asked what the fee was for contract attorneys. Thompson explained that was the money the county had to pay for people who did not have enough money to pay an attorney. The county has contracted with four law firms to provide that service.

Some of the questions commissioners had were for the district court clerk, sheriff, and public works requests.

Commissioner Danny McCullough said that he was confused on how the whole district court thing works or who pays for what

Lamb said that the county paid for all personnel except the judges and clerks, which were paid for by the Sixth District Court in Miami County. Linn County also pays for the utilities, furnishings and cleaning, he added.

Thompson said that the sheriff’s transfer for $25,000 was to “upfit” the two new deputy’s cars. Thompson said that the upfit was about $12,500 for each car. Upfits include markings, adding communication devices, emergency equipment, and other items.

James said that he never knew that it cost that much to upfit a car.

Lamb said that the money transfer for the Public Works Department was an example of how the transfer process is used. The funds being transferred were for grant matches for the Botkin Bridge for $88,000 and Hell’s Bend Project at around $200,000, which were not yet due this year but were being planned for.

The $25,000 that Public Works Director Shaun West was asking for was to replace the station wagon that will be used at the airport as a courtesy car for pilots to use. Since the station wagon is used as a back-up car for county employees, he was asking for the $25,000 to replace it with another used car.

Airport Manager Jessica Hightower said this would be a huge service for the pilots since there was only a restroom at the airport and nowhere to get food or drinks. The commissioners did not want to fund that transfer but agreed to putting the station wagon at the airport.

James told West that next year the equipment purchases needed to be identified at budget time rather than this method of saving until the end of the year. It’s informational for the commissioners to know instead of just seeing $200,000 get rolled over to this.

The commissioners approved $743,000 in transfers and about $352,000 in purchase orders.

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