Friday, May 30, 2003

Boone may boost budget to $44.5M

3.8% increase reflects slow revenue

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BURLINGTON - After several years of big spending on parks, buildings and roads, this year's county budget is taking a breather.

The proposed $44.5 million operating budget for fiscal year 2004 includes two new county employees and few new projects. The budget would be a 3.8 percent increase from this year.

After funding two parks, a $27 million public safety complex, roads and water lines, the county needs to slow down, said County Administrator Jim Parsons.

"The growth in revenues has not kept pace with some of the expenses," he said, noting that the slowing economy has slowed the growth in payroll taxes, which make up most of the county's revenue. The county expects to take in $13 million in payroll taxes next year.

The county will also lose nearly $1 million in 2004 because of a change in the state's tangible property tax law.

The general fund budget, not including bond proceeds, is $35 million, a 9.3 percent increase from $32 million last year.

The county will carry over $9 million in its general fund from this year's budget, Parsons said. At the end of next year, it expects to have $5.2 million remaining.

But the Fiscal Court will have to make some tough choices before approving a final budget June 24.

The Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky, which gets funding from Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, bases each county's share on the population living within a mile of a bus stop.

An increase in population caused Boone's share to rise 31 percent, to $2.8 million for 2004.

Judge-executive Gary Moore, Parsons and the three commissioners discussed cutting funding for TANK but did not take action.

The 2004 budget includes an $8 million project that will bring county water to residents in Petersburg, Belleview and the Big Bone Church Road area. Also, Petersburg residents will get a community center.


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