A shortfall of excess fees from the Jessamine County Clerk’s office was the result of an unforeseen drop in the amount of delinquent property taxes collected last year, said county clerk Johnny Collier said.
Collier said his office reviewed their books and discovered the main cause of the $135,000 difference between the excess fees presented to the fiscal court on March 17 and the budgeted amount was delinquent property taxes, which have been going down each year as the economy has recovered from the Great Recession.
“In 2013 it dropped right around $200,000, so obviously that’s a major portion of causing that excess check to be short,” Collier said.
Collier said there isn’t much his office can do in that situation, except notify the fiscal court as early as possible that there is a deficit. Collier said that earlier date could be as soon as possible after the tax sale in August – as early as September – just three months into the county’s fiscal year.
“If it’s going to be short again, there’s nothing that the clerk’s office can do about that. All we can do is collect the taxes. But what we can do is report that (difference) to the fiscal court so they can prepare,” Collier said.
Collier said his office is going to implement that strategy and watch the budget closely.
“What I’m going to do is, after we find out exactly what the past-due property taxes are … I will do a budget amendment and tell the fiscal court this – if it’s up or down – you know, this is exactly what (was collected),”-Collier said.
Collier was elected in November, so 2015 will be his first fiscal year handling the budget for the county clerk’s office.
Jessamine County judge-executive David West said the county is under-budget in a few departments, so receiving less revenue than expected from the excess clerk fees isn’t expected to cause any problems.
“There were a couple of areas that are under-budget, so hopefully we’re going to be just right on target,” West said. “You know, we’ve still got a few months to go in our fiscal year, so the closer we get to it, the more impact we’ll be able to guage.”
West said the Jessamine County Road Department is one that is surprisingly running under-budget, considering the two major snow events in February and March.
“(The road department) didn’t use as much salt as in years past – believe it or not,” West said. “With the snow we just kept pushing and pushing, instead of salting and salting, because we didn’t want to salt and then push the salt to the side of the road and re-salt.”
The only way a budget amendment would be unnecessary is if the county clerk’s office was able to budget the exact amount that would be collected, but Collier said that’s not possible because there’s no way to guess which property owners will pay and which won’t. However, Collier did say that so far this year looks to be on par with last year.