The Pulaski County Council got a closer look at recent spending increases Monday. Consultant Jeffrey Peters pointed out that while the county government’s annual income has remained just above $10 million over the past six years, spending went from just over $10 million in 2016 to almost $12.5 million in 2018.
“Significantly, you’ve got increases in the Health and Aviation funds,” Peters said. “My biggest concern is the Special LIT Fund, that it’s almost doubled. It’s gone from about three-quarters of a million to a million-and-a-half, and the revenue stream is only that $713,000 and it’s going to go away.”
When it comes to the county’s General Fund, Peters said a few departments have seen some notable increases from 2016 to this’s estimates. “Assessor is up a lot,” he said. “Courthouse, it’s $58,000 up, but going from $163,000 to $222,000, and again, maybe that’s just repair and maintenance of things that you have to do. Superior Court, Circuit Court are both up substantially, and you’ve basically gone from just starting, I believe, your Data Processing department to getting it up and running, so its increase is 370-some thousand.”
The two courts’ budgets were a particular concern for council members. Ken Boswell pointed out that the courts’ workloads largely depend on what the prosecutor is doing. “If the prosecutor is filing lots of charges, they’re going to have lots of cases,” Boswell said. “Their backlog is going to go up. It’s going to cost more for public defenders and things like that. So once again, sometimes, other branches that are doing what they perceive as their job end up putting pressure on another branch or another department because of the process.”
Council members did point out that the judges are taking steps to reduce costs. Superior Court is switching to a contract public defender system, while efforts are underway to reduce the county’s recidivism rate with grant-funded programs.