SEBRING — For the first quarter of the 2018-19 fiscal year, Highlands County government has spent 31 percent of its annual budget.

Normally that should be 25 percent, with only a fourth of the year gone. County Administrator Randy Vosburg has told county commissioners that’s because of some payroll issues.

One reason, Vosburg said, is that the new fiscal year had more pay periods in the first quarter than the previous year — five, versus four.

Another, is that Highlands County Emergency Medical Services spent 32 percent of its budget already as of Jan. 1, 2019, opposed to 25 percent at that same time last year, according to the Interim Financial Report by Sally Hood, accounting director for the Highlands County Clerk of the Courts.

Vosburg said EMS has a lot of vacancies. Highlands County Fire Rescue has transferred many paramedics and emergency medical technicians from EMS to fill new dual-trained paid positions in fire services.

That’s resulted in a lot of overtime pay to the existing EMS crews.

Commissioner Don Elwell asked if Vosburg expects to address the overtime soon, and Vosburg said he expects to see some relief with new hires in March.

Revenue, as it turns out, has matched the budget spending. Of the current $68.6 million budget, the county has taken in $33.3 million, Hood said, or 49 percent.

Last year, as of Jan. 1, the county had taken in 53 percent of its annual revenue, but that was $32.8 million of a $61.9 million budget.

Also last year, the county had spent 50 percent of its budget by Jan. 1, but that was thanks to clean-up efforts after Hurricane Irma.

Special revenue fund incomes are the same as last year — 11 percent — while spending has come down this year from 25 percent to 20 percent.

Long-term debt has come down from $23.2 million to $20.3 million.

The Reserve for Contingency in the General Fund, which was $1.07 million at this time last year, has come up to $1.18 million, which is also an increase from the 2018-19 original reserve of $1.13 million, when it was approved in September.

Revenue from solid waste is down about 2 percent, from 57 percent to 55 percent, but the projected revenue is currently $100,000 higher than it was for last year at this time.

With solid waste expenses holding steadily from last year at $10 million, this first quarter has seen expenses drop by 1 percent from 21 percent to 20 percent.

No revenue has come in yet from the energy recovery fund at the landfill. So far this year, the county has spent 8 percent of that $5 million budget, versus 2 percent last year.

Commissioner Greg Harris asked about the landfill closure rate going up. Vosburg said when the county has to close a cell, staff will have to open a new cell, with all the costs those incur, in addition to the cost of closing a cell.

Vosburg said the county will need to update its liability insurance this year, which will likely make surpluses dwindle.

On capital projects, the county has spent $110,00 this year, versus slightly more than $2 million at this time last year.

There were no revenues, but then no expenditures from impact fees, which have been under a moratorium for years.

The employee benefit fund currently has a balance of $921,093 for health expenses, $318,700 for dental expenses and $49,797 for wellness costs — a total of $1.29 million.

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