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Hardin County government finished the first half of the 2012-13 budget cycle on a high note. Revenues topped expenditures by $2.7 million during the first six months, an improvement of $684,079 from last year, according to a news release from Judge-Executive Harry Berry’s office.
“Anytime you have more revenues than expenditures, it’s a good thing,” Berry said in an interview Friday.
Total revenues for the first six months checked in at $16.8 million while $14.1 million in costs were generated. The county approved roughly a $30 million spending plan last year.
Berry was pleased with the numbers, but his words hinted of a conservative optimism, leaving room for the unexpected during the second half of the year.
“It’s just the first six months,” he said. “There are still six months to go.”
Despite an inherent uncertainty, Berry found plenty of positives, including the ability of departments to hold down expenses. According to Berry’s release, all county departments are less than their “spending targets” for the first six months. Employee costs are 47.5 percent of budget while fuel costs are 45 percent.
Some costs are front-loaded, such as insurance, Berry said. The county also sees some of its greatest revenues during the first of the calendar year when property taxes are due.
Concerning financial challenges ahead, Berry said fuel is one area the county must monitor to ward off rising costs. After Thursday night’s snow storm, Berry said he was thinking less about missing work or building a snowman and more about the financial impact the storm may have on the budget. Likewise, he consciously monitors the fuel pump as most residents do and tracks what effect prices will have on the bottom line. Should the county see a rapid leap in fuel expenses, he said, those overages must be pulled from another source, such as asphalt allocations.
The county budgets annually for overtime costs, which primarily are found in the road depart-ment, but Berry said multiple rounds of heavy snow potentially could lead to spikes in overtime hours.
Another positive area of growth is solid waste, where the sale of carbon credits has contributed around $107,405.
“We anticipate a comparable amount of revenue from selling carbon credits in the second half of the budget year,” Berry said in a statement. The carbon credits are compiled from destruction of methane gas at the Pearl Hollow Landfill to create green energy.
The solid waste department also collected around $127,000 in net revenue from timber sales with another $85,500 expected this year. And, Berry said, there has been an increase of more than 3 percent in waste disposed at the landfill this year.
“Everything seems to be on the up-and-up right now,” said Bob Hall, solid waste coordinator. “I guess I’m hoping that the economy will continue to improve. As it does, our volume will improve.”
Hall said factories and local businesses are bringing new jobs and creating a healthier fiscal environment.
“As the economy improves, so does the volume of waste improve,” Hall said.
The Hardin County Detention Center likely will finish with a $3 million shortfall by year’s end, but Berry said the jail has not “slipped backward” during the first six months. Income was up by $69,449 while expenditures only increased by $34,889, according to the release.
“It is certainly a good step in the right direction,” Berry said.
And, for the fourth consecutive year, Hardin County EMS expenditures are within 2 percent of revenues, which was unfathomable at one time when the ambulance service’s costs outpaced revenues by more than 15 percent. He credited this paradigm shift to an “attention to detail” and cooperation with the county’s billing service.
Calling out both state and federal government spending practices, Berry said the county lives within its means.
“Hardin County’s financial reserves total $13.7 million and our outstanding debt is just 10.4 percent of the county’s statutory debt capacity,” Berry said in the statement. “Hardin County government takes seriously the challenge to provide the programs and services required without overspending the resources you entrust us with.”
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.