After not approving of the proposed 2020-21 fiscal year budget earlier this month, the Franklin County Fiscal Court had a first reading of the proposed budget Thursday.

The court is expected to approve a budget $406,006 less than the current fiscal year budget at its second reading. This brings the proposed 2020-21 fiscal year budget to $27,457,008.

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“This 2021 budget is… very conservative in its approach for what we anticipate receiving as well as what we are going to appropriate for operations for the coming year,” County Treasurer Susan Laurenson said.

The county also plans not to purchase any new vehicles in the next fiscal year at this time.

The Franklin County Road Department also cut $200,200 from its budget for next fiscal year.

At an April 30 budget meeting, Superintendent Jon Mitchell offered to cut funds from the salt/deicing materials line item since the department has a decent supply

In the 2019-20 fiscal year, $135,000 was budgeted for salt/deicing materials. For 2020-21, that line item was reduced by $32,500 to $102,500.

The maintenance equipment and construction materials line items were also reduced by $15,000 each.

Other spending cuts include decreasing the Franklin County Coroner’s Office equipment budget line item from $10,000 to $8,500 and its office supplies line item from $6,100 to $5,000. The vehicle maintenance and fuel line item was also reduced by $1,000 from $9,000 to $8,000.

On April 30, Franklin County Coroner Will Harrod proposed a continuation budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. When asked if he could make cuts, Harrod told the court his office was already working on a “bare bones budget.”

The coroner’s total budget will decrease $3,600 in the coming fiscal year.

However, Harrod will receive a $600 salary increase from $27,000 to $27,600. The deputy coroners’ salaries and coroner’s secretary salary will remain unchanged.

Among line items that did not receive cuts include Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells’ salary and County Attorney Rick Sparks’ salary.

Wells will receive a $2,000 increase, bringing his salary to $111,000 for the next fiscal year. Sparks will receive a $1,000 salary increase, bringing his salary to $52,500 for the next fiscal year.

All six county magistrates will also receive a small salary increase of $600, bringing a magistrate’s salary to $27,600 per year from $27,000.

Franklin County Sheriff Chris Quire will receive a salary increase of $2,800, bringing his 2020-21 fiscal year salary to $102,500.

On May 7, Laurenson suggested the court pass a near continuation of the budget, which means the 2020-21 fiscal year budget would be almost the same as the 2019-20 fiscal year budget aside from a $2,158 increase.

The current fiscal year's budget for the county is $27,863,014.

Magistrates Scotty Tracy, J.W. Blackburn, Sherry Sebastian and Michael Mueller stated they did not feel comfortable passing a continuation of the budget considering the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

On May 7, Laurenson reported that the road department, sheriff’s office, fire department and jail are looking to see a combined $7 million deficit. To balance the budget, funds will be transferred from the general fund to the appropriate departments.

On Thursday, Laurenson reported the county will lose an estimated $90,000 in gasoline tax funds due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Wells said the county won’t know the full impact of the COVID-19 crisis until at least July after the next fiscal year begins.

A second reading of the budget, which will require a majority vote to pass, will occur at a Franklin County Fiscal Court meeting at a later date.

The 2020-21 fiscal year begins July 1.

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