Jefferson Co. Busts Budgets By $70K

Jefferson County officials spent $70,200 more than the county commission had appropriated, busting budgets from public works to welfare services during the 2010 fiscal year, state auditors found in an annual review of the county’s finances.

Auditors noted that another fund, the law library fund, had expenses and encumbrances of more than $8,100, even though the county commission had not adopted a budget for the fund.

No worries. County officials should have extra cash on hand after approving a 12-cent property tax hike last year.

“We need a little more money this year to make everything work,” County Commission Chairman Phillip Kindred said at the time of the August vote.

Kindred may want to revise his estimate upward, since auditors have determined the county had a $4.9 million deficit in the solid waste disposal fund at the end of 2010, an increase of more than $216,000 from the previous year. The deficit resulted from the whopping costs, also in the $4.9 million range, of closing a county landfill and maintaining it for 30 years afterward. It was a problem auditors had noted the previous year, leading them to conclude that “management is either unwilling or unable to address the deficiency.”

Auditors have run into similar landfill closure costs in Cumberland and Hardeman counties.

Auditors also faulted Jefferson County for poor recordkeeping in the county clerk’s office and, in the schools department, failure to account for federal stimulus funds separately from other county funds.