Elected last November, Sheriff Jason Mosher came to the courthouse Tuesday morning and heard the three commissioners' request to lower his proposed calendar 2013 expenditures, which are perennially the county's biggest budget item by far.
"We asked the sheriff to look at his budget and see if he can trim a little bit," Presiding Commissioner Bonnie McCord said afterward. "We had a half-million left over last year and I'm thrilled about that because we had a hard year in 2010.
"The new jail hadn't been in use very long and it was tough. We had to watch our cash flow to make payroll."
McCord explained, with County Clerk Tammi Beach concurring, that the unexpectedly healthy surplus had stemmed from a combination of factors, the most important of which was frugality by department heads but also including beefed up sales tax receipts and jail revenues from housing inmates from surrounding counties.
McCord said Deputy County Clerk Jim Bagley monitors the departments' monthly expenditures and alerts the commission, which signs all checks, if any look prone to start busting their budgets. "They can only spend what's been approved in the budget unless we amend for something like a grant," said the presiding commissioner, working with Northern Commis-sioner Neal Gerster of Walker and recently elected Southern Commissioner Everett Wolfe of Deerfield.
"It's a big guesstimate, but last year was financially the best in my 20 years on the commission," she said. "Our department heads are pretty conservative. They help us a lot."
Along with Vernon County's $3,612,008 general fund budget and $513,240 surplus, McCord said, Seaver's road and bridge fund totaled $1,457,450 in 2012 and finished the year $264,444 in the black.
Broken down by department, the respective budgets in 2011 and 2012 were as follows:
County Commission -- $96,291 and $96,413.
County Clerk's Office -- $193,634 and $189,207.
Elections -- $3,900 and $84,300.
Buildings and Grounds --$99,137 and $119,511.
Employees' Fringe Benefits -- $438,235 and $429,836.
Treasurer's Office: $110,285 and $139,817.
Recorder of Deeds' Office: $88,852 and $90,007.
Circuit Court Clerk's Office -- $42,400 and $55,500.
Court Administration -- $23,846 and $28,700.
Public Administrator's Office -- $67,785 and $73,612.
Sheriff's Office -- $1,000,002 and $1,124,754.
County Jail -- $599,570 and $634,127.
Prosecuting Attorney's Office -- $193,336 and $192,694.
Juvenile Office -- $113,744 and $121,984.
County Coroner --$28,628 and $27,563.
Insurance and Bonds -- $58,000 and $60,000.
University Extension Service -- $40,000 and $41,000.
Computers -- $25,730 and $29,680.
Forest Cropland -- $3,618 both years.
Recycling Center -- $32,896 and $38,628.
Emergency Management -- $49,499 and $47,954.
Children's Center --$1,000 both years.
Debt Service -- $57,650 and zero.
Drug Court -- $10,000 and $14,350.
Emergency Fund (representing not less than three percent of total estimated revenues) -- $96,219 and $98,293.