In the end, the St. Charles County Council opted to pass a county budget for 2019 that didn’t rock many boats over an additional cost of living allowance for the county’s more than 1,000 employees or delay the hiring of new employees.
The council voted 7-0 at its Dec. 17 meeting to approve a 2019 budget that includes a 2-percent merit increase plus a 1-percent cost of living increase for employees. Those increases also were included in County Executive Steve Ehlmann’s draft budget. The vote came even through several councilmembers at their Dec. 3 meeting said they favored only an additional 1-percent cost of living increase.
County Finance Director Bob Schnur had told the council that the Missouri Department of Revenue has said sales tax revenue collection in the county is down. Sales tax revenue provides more than 60 percent of general fund revenue, which includes salaries for county employees.
Councilmembers Joe Cronin [District 1], Dave Hammond [District 4] and Joe Brazil [District 2] favored adding the 1-percent increase and even suggested delaying the hiring of new employees to see if the county receives more revenue by February or March when final sales tax figures become available. However, the council basically agreed to go along with Ehlmann’s draft budget, protecting both increases and new positions.
The 2019 budget includes five new hires in the information systems department; a caseworker and five new corrections custodians; a forensic scientist, shooting range director and a fraud detective for the county police department.
The councilmembers did not discuss the budget at the meeting before they voted. However, according to Schnur, county staff had answered the councilmembers questions prior to its final budget vote. Should any additional questions arise, the county expects to be able to address them by the time sales tax revenue for the county is finalized in February or March.
The budget includes total revenue resources of $93.3 million in the general fund and expenditures of $85.7 million in general fund with an anticipated fund balance of $7.61 million.
Ehlmann thanked the staff for their work in putting together the budget.
“It’s getting harder every year,” he said.