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Sund trims away at county budget





Ellis County Administrator Greg Sund continues to make progress in closing the gap in a shortfall in revenue to cover requested expenditures in the 2014 budget.

Last week, the budget was at $21.8 million, with a $905,416 shortfall in revenue. But Sund has continued to tweak the budget draft, which now stands at $21.7 million, with a revenue shortfall of $774,813.

"It's getting a little better every time I do a little work on it," Sund said. "As I look at it, I try to assess what past experience is, compared to what requests this year are."

A special meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday at the meeting room at 601 Main, where Sund will discuss the budget with county commissioners and department heads. An additional budget meeting is planned later this month. The budget has to be finalized by late August, but published at the end of July.

"It's time-consuming," Sund said. "You have to look at the whole, entire budget, and how it works together. ... There's a lot of things involved in the budget, lot of moving parts."

Sund hopes to receive direction at how to proceed at Monday's budget meeting.

"I want to get some input from the commissioners as to where everything is, get input from department heads on how the proposals have changed and what things we can continue to change.

"Everything in the budget is movable at this point. There's nothing that's set in stone."

County building projects also are moving along. Architects have visited the renovation projects at 601 Main and 718 Main.

"The architects looked at (718 Main) Monday and spent the whole day going through it and assessing conditions, the property, what things we will, and probably won't have to change," Sund said. "That's something that we will be looking at in the near future, what information comes from that."

After looking at 601 Main, the architects had a fresh perspective on the project.

"I think they came out of it realizing that we don't have to do as much to the building as they originally thought we would," Sund said.

As for the remodeling project at the courthouse and jail, as well as the construction of a new EMS/rural fire building, Sund has been in touch with one architect more recently than the other.

"We got the design drawing from the architect Friday afternoon, so going to be distributing them," Sund said of the EMS/rural fire project.

Sund hasn't had a recent update from the architect on the progress at the courthouse and jail.

"I need to get hold of the architect and see where that project is going," Sund said. "They're just two different architectural firms; they work on things differently."

The $14.3 million project for the courthouse and jail, as well as the new EMS/rural fire building, will be paid for through a 0.5-percent county sales tax, which will take effect Oct. 1. The renovations at 601 Main and 718 Main, previously estimated at $1 million, are not part of that project but instead will be paid through the budgetary process.