Preliminary budget figures for the coming fiscal year indicate general fund revenue for Oklahoma County may be increasing for the first time in years.
A report prepared by the Oklahoma County clerk's office shows estimated revenue for the 2012-13 fiscal year is slightly higher than revenue collected during the current fiscal year.
Revenue projection for 2012-13 is about $75.3 million, according to the report, while actual revenue collected for the current fiscal year is about $75.2 million.
A similar report released one year ago indicates the revenue estimate for the current fiscal year was about $73.3 million.
The revenue estimate for the coming fiscal year is typically lower than actual revenue collected during that time because the county will not budget supplementary funds until September. Among supplementary funds to be included later are ad valorem taxes from the state and carryover from the previous year's budget.
Oklahoma County Treasurer Butch Freeman said revenue estimates for 2012-13 mark the first time since he started in 1993 that projections for the coming fiscal year exceeded actual collections for the current fiscal year.
“We're starting off now with where we usually get to after the supplementary funds are added in September,” Freeman said Wednesday. “To me, the budget is healthier than I've seen it since I've been in Oklahoma County.”
According to the report, increased collections are expected in property taxes (1.6 percent), intergovernmental activity (3.2 percent) and charges for service (5.7 percent).
Decreased collections are expected for interest income (25 percent) and miscellaneous revenue (8.8 percent).
The most dramatic change in anticipated revenue involves juvenile detention services, which is expected to increase 18.4 percent.
Last year the state did not pay its obligation to Oklahoma County for housing juvenile offenders, Freeman said, but now those funds are back on the table.
County Commissioner Ray Vaughn said the county had about 3 to 8 percent less revenue to work with each subsequent fiscal year for the past several consecutive years.
Vaughn attributed the turnaround, however slight, to new construction in the county, including an outlet mall and a new trucking company near Interstate 40 and Council Road.
“What's significant is the fact that it's going up instead of going down,” Vaughn said. “Hopefully it signals a turn in the economy.”
Each county department has submitted its estimate of needs for the coming fiscal year, and the county's budget board will likely carve out a permanent budget proposal at a meeting May 15.
In other county news, commissioners approved pay raises for more than 200 county employees during an executive session meeting Wednesday.
Annual raises worth $380,000 total were awarded to eligible employees who work in county departments created under the authority of the board of commissioners. These departments include social services, court services and information technology, among others.
Employees of other county departments, as well as crews that work for the three district barns, were not eligible, said Dan Matthews, the county's human resources director.
The raises went into effect immediately. Salary adjustments were not uniform and were dependent on employees' performance evaluation, Matthews said.
The county also considered each employee's previous salary increases when determining the total of each individual raise, he said.
“But there hasn't been money available for salary increases for most employees in quite a while — for most employees three or four years,” Matthews said.
Some employees were ineligible for raises because of performance reasons, he said.