Buchanan County is kicking off 2018 debt free. According to the Presiding Commissioner Harry Roberts, the county paid off the last of its debt in late 2017, just in time to finalize the 2018 budget Friday afternoon.
The commissioner said the reevaluation of spending and a collaborative effort between city departments has led to the financial success of Buchanan county.
“Anytime you’re paying for something that's already happened, and you have several years to continue to pay it, it puts a strain on being able to provide the services that you need to provide today,” Roberts said.
Roberts said accurately identifying little things like departmental adjustments and mileage compensation is what made the most substantial change for the county.
“Some of the biggest changes we’ve made is identifying what the expenses are in each budget. It used to be miscellaneous was a big item in each budget, and miscellaneous doesn’t tell us much,” Roberts said.
Tracking the little things and being conservative with projected revenue has allowed the county to start making changes.
“We’ve been fortunate, our revenues have been good, but we’ve also utilized what I think is the most important thing: don’t overestimate your revenue," Roberts said. "Don’t overestimate your tax projections, because that is what will get you in trouble. We’ve seen it at the state level, we’ve seen it at the federal level and you can’t continue to do business that way."
The first major purchase the county intends to make in 2018 is a new heating and cooling system for the Buchanan County Courthouse at 411 Jules Street.
In addition to clearing off the city’s debt, the Levee Tax has brought in $2.9million for the first year of the use tax. Approximately $2.5million has been transferred to the Missouri Corp of Engineers, with the remaining $500,000 to be held over for the 2018 budget.
Roberts anticipates the Levee Tax to reach the $10,990,000 goal, lifting the use tax before the 2020 deadline, if the tax continues to generate revenue at the same projected rate.