Commissioners expect smooth new-year transition for budget

In their annual budget hearing — detailing budget appropriations from 2012 and budget requests for 2013 — the Athens County commissioners concluded that, budget wise; Athens is in good shape for the coming year.

Several local officials ranging from Sheriff Pat Kelly to Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey, presented to Commissioners Larry Payne and Lenny Eliason, who felt confident about Athens expenditures next year.

“We’re probably in the best shape we’ve been in, in a number of years,” Eliason said. “People take pride in the work that they do and (it) clearly shows.”

Although many agencies had a decrease in budget — including the Board of Elections — other agencies, such as the Sheriff’s Office, saw an increase.

Since 2012 was a presidential election year, the Board of Elections requested $523,537 for 2013, $121,101 less than they spent in 2012.

“We expected that because they don’t have as much to deal with in 2013,” Eliason said. “They’ve done a great job dealing with their money and their (budget) shows that.”

Every four years — presidential election years — the budget is significantly greater for the Board of Elections because their staff increases and they tend to work longer hours and more often, Payne said.

In 2013, the Athens County Board of Elections plans to use a large sum of its money on new voting booths, because the ones it currently has were purchased in 1979 and are beginning to break, Quivey said.

“We figured that with the money we have left over from this year, and the $17,000 we have on an account (could go toward) new voting booths,” she said. “That money would be able to buy 20 of them, so we would only need to buy 40 more booths.”

The Board of Elections is also decreasing the amount of total employee salaries in 2013 as a result of fewer people working, according to the Board of Elections budget request.

As for the Sheriff’s Office, Kelly requested $1,658,461, which is $84,693 more than he requested in 2012. The amount might change if he decides to request three new cruisers.

The cruisers each cost about $31,000, so purchasing three new cruisers would add $93,000 to the budget.

“We’re in need (of new cruisers),” Kelly said.

Additionally, two deputies might leave the office next year, including Lt. Rodney Smith, which could alter the funds.

“I’ve seen (the budget) higher than this before, but it’s accurate,” Eliason said. “It’ll really depend on whether crime goes up or down and who’s retiring.”

Other officials, including Ann Trout, county Clerk of Courts, and Probate Court Judge Robert Stewart wanted to increase their 2013 budget to add more employers; however, Eliason said it is difficult to accommodate everybody.

“Everyone wants more people working for them,” he said. “It’d be nice to give people everything, but that isn’t always so easy. Everyone is competing for money.”

Commissioners Payne and Eliason are prepared to have a solid year in terms of budget, and they hope to keep up the consistent work.

“We’re not in bad shape,” Eliason said. “Other times in the past we’ve been overwhelmed with the budget, but I don’t see that this year.”

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