Commission Changes Budget Amendment Policy

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

Some of Cannon County’s money matters will now be handled in a different manner following action Tuesday night by the County Commission.

County offices and agencies whose funds are handled by the county will now have to present budget amendments to the commission’s Budget Committee for a recommendation of approval before they go to the full commission.

“We will be better off as a commission if we have amendments go through the Budget Committee,” Commission Chairman Bob Stoetzel said.

In a letter sent to department heads and elected or appointed officials, the chairman stated that “if it becomes apparent to the management of Cannon County government that the authorized budget needs to be amended, the procedure calls for the chairman to be notified which in turn will notify the Budget Committee to meet and review the requested budget amendment. After the particular budget amendment is reviewed will then be placed on the agenda of the next scheduled county commission meeting.”

Stoetzel noted that in the past, the practice of county government has been to approve numerous, large budget amendments during the month of June to “clean up” the final budget.

“This practice will no longer take place,” Stoetzel said in informing department heads that “failure to follow this procedure may result in the denial of your budget amendment request and the need for the county official to reimburse the county for the unauthorized expenditure of tax funds.”

Per state law, Stoetzel said, funds must be appropriated by the county commission prior to actual expenditure. The only legal exception to the law is a need that arises from an unforeseen emergency. The failure of management to properly plan is not an emergency, he added.

The new policy had immediate ramifications as the commissioners decided the table a budget amendment request from the R.E.A.C.H. Afterschool Program until its next meeting, set for Dec. 13. Also Grady George, chief of the Eastside Volunteer Fire Department, who approached the Commission seeking approval for purchasing a truck to put a cascade system the fire department was awarded off of a grant, was informed that he would have to take the matter before the Budget Committee.

It was decided that the Budget Committee would meet prior to the regular commission meeting each month to review amendment requests.