Live Oak —
“I’m also going to tell you that if you don’t watch out, this project (Klausner sawmill) that we hope would bring financial prosperity could bring financial disaster if we’re not careful with the funds that we have.” Clerk of Court Barry Baker
By the numbers
Reserve capital improvement: $1,213,483*
General revenue fund
Reserve fiscally constraint taxes: $1,485,585*
CD @ First Federal $1,038,935
(ad valorem offset)
CD @ Lafayette State Bank $1,047,938
Reserve equipment replacement: $637,096
General revenue fund
Board contingency balance: $526,052
* As of Tuesday
Suwannee County Clerk of the Court and county budget overseer Barry Baker warned county commissioners Tuesday morning to be careful on spending before they find themselves without any reserves.
“We have several smaller projects that are going on at this time,” said Baker. “I have a concern that if we don’t watch out, that we will have to feed on our reserves with many of these projects left incomplete. Our office is going to start addressing the budget expenses as they occur.”
Baker referred to handouts he had provided commissioners and audience members of cash reserves and contingency for them to determine allocation of funds.
“We didn’t have any direction which funds you want to be taken out of, so we need to address those,” said Baker.
Baker said that some of the items on the list had already been paid out, but they were still awaiting direction on how to proceed.
Commission chairman Wesley Wainwright wanted to make known an additional expense that didn’t make it on the list.
“The transportation cost that will be incurred in this ‘round robin’ effect of taking the clay to the sinkhole just north of the landfill and then coming back to the catalyst site will be FEMA reimbursable,” said Wainwright.
He said, however, that the deviation from the path to pick up dirt to be then taken to the catalyst site will not be reimbursed.
The total amount will be about $130,000 with FEMA reimbursement at around $84,000 leaving a balance of about $44,000 for the county to pick up.
Baker commended all who have been working hard to secure grants for assisted funding for the catalyst site, but warned that there should be extreme caution in how it’s handled.
“I’m also going to tell you that if you don’t watch out, this project that we hope would bring financial prosperity could bring financial disaster if we’re not careful with the funds that we have,” said Baker.
Baker said Columbia County is willing to help Suwannee in exchange for a portion of future tax dollars that will be generated.
“I tell you, I’m not above begging,” said Baker. “If that’s what’s needed, and if we can get additional assistance from Tallahassee.”
Baker said that he or any of his staff would be available to go with any of the commissioners to the Capitol to ask for financial assistance in regard to the catalyst site. He added that he was sure if anyone asked any of the other elected officials they would help.
“We’ve got people in this county, if you remember a few years ago whenever the library was being threatened with future budget cuts,” said Baker. “There were emails and phone calls, it’s for that, that I think they would follow in this case as well if you would ask.”
Baker said that the county used to have funds available, but that time is past. He said that ad valorem tax base is down and the state revenues that once sustained the reserves are now being utilized to fund indigent and Medicaid costs and passed down to the county.
“I’m asking you as a board not to commit to any additional projects or expenditures that have not been budgeted until you have a complete picture of what the cost is,” said Baker.
He invited any and all commissioners to come down to his office where he and his staff could perhaps iron out some of these issues and have a clear understanding as to what funds are available.
“We’ll try to help you in any way that we can,” said Baker.