Dave Reads the Camden County Budget

A few days ago, I wrote about the Camden County Commission meeting that occurred on June 29, 2021.

During that meeting, the commissioners were faced with a decision to approve $4,500 in additional funding for the Emergency Management Agency to carry them through to December 2021. I was surprised when the County Auditor, Jimmy Laughlin, informed the commission that approximately 80% of the unbudgeted contingency funding for the fiscal year had already been spent. He explained that normally at this point in the fiscal year (January to December), they would have only spent 40% of the funding.

While the commissioners did approve the EMA funding, it made me want to take a look at the Camden County Budget for 2021.

You might not be a numbers person, but I actually enjoy going through these types of documents. You can really learn a lot from them once you know where the money comes from and where it’s going.

I did have some questions about the budget so I talked to the County Auditor and he explained some of the issues that were most confusing to me. I’ll attach some of the images from the budget line items I’m talking about to this post on Facebook.

So let’s sit down, have a glass of bourbon and dig through the budget:

My first misconception in my earlier article was the size of the emergency contingency fund. The pie chart showed it contained $360,000. Laughlin explained that it is a statutory requirement that a county maintain a month of salary as a contingency. For Camden County, this is $360,000. However, I had noticed a single line item sitting in the budget that read: “001-019-59999.000 MISCELLANEOUS” and had a balance of $1,000,000. Laughlin said this account was an additional unbudgeted contingency fund set aside for the inevitable, unplanned expenses Camden County incurs during a fiscal year.

This million dollar fund is the fund that has 80% of its balance already committed. $800,000.

The Auditor clarified that some of the committed money has been spent and some has been earmarked for expenses that are going to come due. He explained where some of this $800,000 has been allocated:

Legal Costs: $300,000

Investigation and Resolution costs from the Wrestlemania Piper’s Pit meeting between Commissioner Gohagan and the Maintenance Guys: $20,000 (My words. Young people, ask your Dad who Rowdy Roddy Piper was.)

Sheriff’s Office: $140,000

Some of the remaining contingency money has to be reserved for costs that are obviously going to pop up later. One example Auditor Laughlin mentioned is overtime costs for the upcoming holiday weekends for our Camden County deputies. Sheriff Helms is going to mandate maximum deployment on those weekends to keep Camden County and its visitors safe and the overtime pay has to be available for that.

Another example was for employees who retire during the fiscal year. They can cash out their accumulated time and that money has to come from contingency funding.

To sum up, Camden County has $200,000 remaining in the budget to use for unanticipated costs.

Back to reading the Camden County 2021 Budget.

An acronym that kept popping up while I was reading the budget was “CR”.

A typical line might read “001-039-91012-000 TRF FRM CR TO LEST SHERIFF” with the rightmost line (2021) balance as $1,755,000. Auditor Laughlin explained that CR and GR are acronyms for County Revenue and General Revenue. So when you see that line, it means that $1,755,00 was transferred from county revenue into the Sheriff’s Office.

Did you want to know who the highest paid executive in the 2021 Camden County Budget is? It’s our Prosecuting Attorney. He makes $141,640 annually. Line Number 010-037-51000.000.

The Budget actually leads off with a nice history of Camden County that I enjoyed but I’m a history nerd so your mileage may vary. It then offers an economic overview of Camden County and compares it to four other Missouri counties ( Cole, Christian, Taney, and St. Francis). Auditor Laughlin explained that these counties were chosen because they give a good variety of county types either for population comparisons or for economic comparisons. It will be interesting to see this information updated in future budgets as new census information comes in.

So let’s learn more about the budget. Together. Download it, pour another one, and post those questions!

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