The Stone County Commission officially approved its 2019 Budget. 

During its regular meeting on Jan. 24., commissioners unanimously agreed to approve a $14.4 million budget. As a third-class county, the Stone County budget is created through the combined efforts of the Stone County clerk, treasurer and commissioners. 

County Clerk Cindy Elmore said, while putting the budget together each year is a big task, she believes they’ve put together a magnificent budget this year.

“I am the budget officer for the county and we do all the data entry in this office when we figure up the numbers,” said Elmore. “As far as what we went through, I just have to say, it went very smoothly. We all work well with the commissioners, the treasurer and everybody. We all sit down and put our minds together and come up with it.”

Mark Maples, Stone County presiding commissioner, said thanks to impressive revenue numbers in 2018, they were able to address some much needed financial decisions.

“In this budget, we were able to hire three or four new employees, which hadn’t been done since back in 06’ or 07’. One of the areas, we were able to hire another additional employee for the sheriff’s department,” said Maples. “Hopefully a road deputy. We were able to increase wages a little bit for all of our employees, straight across the board.”

Southern Stone County Commissioner Hank Smythe said he is also really proud of the fact they were able to increase road deputies’ starting salaries to around $32,000, plus benefits.

“We’re pleased to be able to offer that to all the deputies, and those are new deputies that are coming in,” said Smythe. “So deputies that have been here a little while, their’s is even better than that. So for a first year deputy, we feel that’s a pretty good start there.”

Maples adds they were also able to continue the county’s equipment upgrades for the road and bridge department in 2019.

“For the last two years, we’ve been able to budget for a total, for road and bridge new equipment, $795,000 for the three shops. That is saving us on the repair and maintenance line by upgrading some of our equipment,” said Maples. “We’ve not been able to do that, but we’ve been able to the last two years, and that’s a huge plus.”

Smythe said he believes the county’s revenue increases in recent years can be credited to the recent growth in the nation’s economy following the recession.

“Anytime nationwide the economy starts doing better, well it’s definitely going to help our area. It makes people (want) to get out and take vacations, and of course we’ve got a beautiful area here to vacation to with the Branson Lakes area and Silver Dollar City and Table Rock Lake, and there’s plenty of things to attract people here.”

The 2019 Budget also includes $1.2 million in emergency funds, $300,000 in general revenue and $500,000 for road and bridge in reserve funds.

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