The Warren County MO Commission approved the 2024 budget that includes money to improve and maintain roads and also give employee cost of living raises.
The Warren County Commission approved a budget of more than $38 million during its Jan. 23 meeting.
Initially, the commission was set to discuss the budget during a public hearing at 10 a.m. Jan. 22. Because of the ice storm, commissioners opened the hearing at its scheduled time, but then reconvened it at noon Jan. 23.
The budget contains a 6 percent cost of living increase for all elected officials and county employees. Sheriff’s deputies are also receiving a 6 percent cost of living increase.
The raises are necessary to help retain employees, Presiding Commissioner Joe Gildehaus said.
“We’re getting better at maintaining our people,” he said. “We need to keep the employees we have.”
Gildehaus said losing employees costs the county more in the long run.
“We do not have retraining in a lot of our funds,” Gildehaus said.
“You have to hire somebody that knows a little bit about computers and this and that. So knock on wood, we’ve been doing pretty well on that.”
The county has also prioritized improving roads, budgeting more than $4.8 million for the road and bridge fund.
Gildehaus said the plan is to ensure regular maintenance on county roads.
“We put a program in two years ago to where if we blacktop a road in 2024, in 2027 we want to crack fill that road,” he said. “So we’re going back and trying to catch up on some of the roads we did 14 years ago, either overlaying it or getting some of the roads caught up to where our road supervisor knows exactly where we need to go. So that’s really helping.”
Gildehaus said the county wants to prioritize Pleasant Hill Road, Boone Monument Road, Schuetzenground Road among others. Work will be dependent on bids.
“We will be doing some road work if the bids all come in within the dollar amounts,” he said. “If we have extra money, we just go down our list and if they come in too high, we may have to go a little bit less.”
But he indicated improving county roads is a major priority for the commission.
“We’re trying to get our roads to a situation where we can maintain them on a more regular basis instead of paving a road 14 years ago and letting it set,” he said. “We’re trying to get the roads to a three year maintenance program through our engineer.”
The county has also budgeted money to improve equipment, which in turn lowers maintenance costs.
“Our maintenance on our equipment went down about $70,000 just for the mere fact we bought a new tractor a year ago, we bought a new skid loader. We’re trying to upgrade some of these 20- to 25-year-old pieces of equipment so we don’t have that problem.”
Overall, the 2024 budget includes expected revenues of $31.9 million and expenses of $38.2 million, leaving the county with an ending balance of more than $11 million.
The county expects to collect more than $2 million in property taxes and $11.2 million in sales tax, with that money also going to the general revenue.
The county’s largest expenses are expected to be with the sheriff’s department, jail, and highways and roads.
Expected expenditures from the sheriff’s department are $5.6 million and jail costs are expected to be close to $3 million. Both numbers are consistent with what was budgeted in 2023.
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at email@example.com