By Josh Mitchell

Missourian Staff Writer

County officials are getting closer to finalizing the 2013 budget.

County Auditor Tammy Vemmer said county departments will be operating with a similar amount of money in the new year as they did this year.

The county commission will hold a public hearing on the budget Jan. 29 and consider approval immediately after during the regular commission meeting, which starts at 10 a.m. No time has been set for the public hearing, but it may be around 9 a.m.

A 15 percent increase in health insurance will cost about $435,000. The county and the employees will share in the increase, she said, adding that a high number of claims have driven up the price.

Personnel costs are the biggest expense for the county, but there are not many pay raises proposed for county employees. Mainly, the assessor’s office and the recorder of deeds office are the only departments proposing raises. They are able to do that with money saved from leaving positions vacant.

The 2013 budget projects revenue to be about $34.2 million, and $58.5 million will be carried over from 2012 into the new budget. That means the 2013 budget will have about $92.7 million available for expenditures. Of that, $63.1 million will be spent on regular operations, and $6.9 million will go to emergency reserves.

The remaining $22.7 million is not appropriated and will be rolled over into the 2014 budget, Vemmer said.

Sales tax revenue, the county’s largest source of income, is budgeted to be about the same in 2013 as what was budgeted last year. For 2013, the county is budgeted to receive $15.6 million in sales taxes. Vemmer said the county anticipates that any growth could be offset by a recent court ruling that says the county cannot collect sales tax on out-of-state vehicle sales.

The county’s main four funds are the general fund, road and bridge fund, building fund and law enforcement sales tax trust.

The general fund for 2013 is tentatively budgeted to have $36.7 million in appropriations; road and bridge fund, $29.6 million; building fund, $11.4 million; and the law enforcement sales tax trust, $11.2 million.

Vemmer expects the budget to be approved and said if it is not that the 2012 budget would continue to be in force.

Fiscal year 2013 actually begins Jan. 1, and the new budget is retroactive upon approval.

Vemmer said the new budget will be available for public view on or before Jan. 18. It will be on the county auditor’s website, in Vemmer’s office and the county clerk’s office.