County to use less from reserve fund

Drew County Treasurer Charlie Searcy told the Quorum Court during Monday night’s regularly scheduled meeting that the county may not have to tap into reserve funds as anticipated during last year’s budget sessions.

Searcy said the county’s sales tax revenue has increased over the last several months. Since the revenues are higher than expected, the county may be able to make it through November without taking money from the reserve account.

The county currently has approximately $500,000 in reserves, which is basically used as a savings account for the county. The 2013 budget shows the county will have to take half of what’s currently in reserves to get the county through the end of the year.

However, with the increase in revenue, Searcy is hopeful that the county could take less than the anticipated amount of $250,000.

“We will have to wait and see what happens,” Searcy told the court. “We need to try to hold on to as much of that $500,000 as we can because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

In 2014, the county is going to get a little help in county general from the a portion of the one-cent road tax collected. Searcy and other county officials hope the help will enable the county to start putting more money into savings because it will help out with different areas of the county’s governmental operations.

County Judge Robert Akin said last summer that the way the road tax had been in the past, the money could only be used for equipment and materials.

“Right now, I can’t pay road department salaries out of that fund,” Akin said. “You can have all the equipment in the world but it doesn’t do any good when you don’t have anyone to work because you can’t pay them.”

The one-cent road tax, which was passed in July, will enable the county to pay road department employees from that fund if the Quorum Court decides to do so, which would free up money in county general for other operating expenses.

The change in the road tax goes into effect January 1, 2014. According to the law, up to 25 percent of the tax can be used for county purposes other than roads should the quorum court decide to do so.

In other business, the court voted:

• To reimburse Akin for his health insurance coverage, which he currently pays for himself. Akin opted not to go on the county’s health insurance due to pre-existing conditions that would drive the premiums up for the other employees. County Attorney Cliff Gibson said this is a special situation because Akin’s health problems and the county can opt to pay a portion of his premium—the same that it pays for other county employees.

• To allow Akin to hire two men for the road department to replace positions that had been eliminated over time.

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