The Woodward News

September 18, 2013

County commissioners want revisions in budget

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Woodward County Commissioners voted Tuesday afternoon to send a proposed $4.7 million county budget back to the budget's maker for revisions.

According to District 3 Commissioner, Vernie Matt, the budget will go back to Jerry Putnam of Putnam and Company, PLLC for one correction related to the juvenile shelter and for the tabulation of a possible raise for county employees.

In a special meeting Tuesday afternoon, Putnam introduced this year's first draft of the Woodward County budget.

A hefty carry over and a healthy tax revenue valuation suggests the county is in "pretty good shape," according to Putnam.

"We are sure not seeing that in every county this year," Putnam said. "We feel like we have come up with a balanced budget."

According to Putnam, the carry over of $761,992.01 from last year's budget in the general fund this year helps the county be prepared for surprises such as collecting less tax revenue than estimated.

In other counties, tax revenue valuation decreased as a result of companies that took advantage of the new law voters approved about a year ago when they voted yes on State Question 766, Putnam said.

That meant companies that had been paying county taxes on intangible property, such as patents, inventions, custom computer software, trademarks and contracts, would no longer pay that tax.

As a result, Putnam said, the valuation of many counties suffered and in some cases, counties had to consider layoffs, Putnam said.

"That's not what we are seeing here in Woodward County," he said. "Due to your good stewardship of the county's budget, you all are doing well."

Woodward County Sheriff Gary Stanley took that opportunity to ask if the county was doing well enough for a raise for the county employees.

"The situation we have is the City of Woodward gives a raise every year and my employees go there to work," Stanley said. "Everything is going up and you can see that if you just go to the grocery store and we didn't give a raise last year."

Putnam reminded commissioners that a 2 percent raise would be a fixed expense if the raise was approved.

"Yes, I understand that one good year doesn't mean they will all be good," Matt said. "But I do agree, we need to try and get our hands a raise."

Matt made a motion that the budget be sent back for the consideration of a possible 2 percent raise for all county employees.

Putnam will rework the budget to consider the possibility of a proposed 2 percent raise for county employees, excluding elected officials, Matt said.

Putnam will also rework the budget in such a way that shows the impact of paying the commissioners out of the general fund so that the highway workers can also have enough in the highway fund to get a raise as well, Matt said.