Riley County commissioners were presented recommended transfers for the 2021 budget.
Seven funds are supported with tax levy dollars; General fund, Riley County Police Department, Capital Improvement, Economic Development, Bond and Interest, County Building, and Health Department. The beginning cash balance for Jan. 1 exceeded what was estimated to begin the year in each of these funds.
Budget and Finance Officer Tami Robison recommended they transfer $1 million to the CIP fund for projects not currently activated. The county has $1.98 million dollars in non-funded projects for 2020.
She also recommended increasing General Fund cash reserves by $250,000 along with an additional $400,000 for fund reserves. Doing so would help stockpile money for emergency use in the event the county experiences more than two disasters in a year.
County Clerk Rich Vargo said looking at previous disasters, it will help them to be better prepared.
“You will feel a lot better being able to protect the community that way instead of saying we can’t do that,” says Vargo.
While it’s a difficult time for local government budgets, this will help the county not have to increase the budget or ad valorem taxes. It will also bring Riley County closer the $3.5 million reserve goal in the next few years. This transfer would increase the current fund reserve total to just north of $3 million.
Vargo says they have been lucky to have to only use the fund once since the 1993 flood, which is why they want to keep the fund stocked.
Commissioner John Ford asked if they will continue to build the funds after reaching the goal. Robison says they will have to revisit the current policy to determine if that amount meets their goals for the future.
Robison also recommends the commission not transfer additional funds from the health department. The department currently has around $666,000 in additional funds.
The main reason to keep the money is the uncertainty of how this will affect the department’s state and federal funding. This will also leave their funding flat for 2021. Their request of county funds, which is funded with ad valorem tax dollars, has remained flat since 2016. If their funding from the county is decreased it could also decrease their grant funding.
“There’s probably going to be some local leverages on some of those COVID-19 related grants and federal and state funds coming through. That’s probably where that will have to come out of,” says Commissioner Ford.
Robison says before they can make any transfers, they still have to find the mill value before moving forward.