Missouri's 2nd Judicial Circuit holds 2014 budget hearing

Elected officials from Missouri's 2nd Judicial Circuit held an open hearing Monday regarding the proposed 2014 budget.

This is the first time that elected officials from Adair, Knox and Lewis counties have agreed to meet together to discuss the proposed budget.

"Every year by statute, we are required to actually have a meeting between judiciary and the county commission for each county. I thought it was a great idea, in that all 3 commissions agreed to get together and have a single meeting to discuss the judiciary budget," said Russell Steele, the Presiding Circuit Judge for the 2nd Circuit Court in Missouri.

The hearing allowed those in attendance to discuss their plans for the budget, and make any of the necessary changes before the budget is finalized.

"December is the last month in which county commissions assemble budgets and January is when they actually filter through them and make decisions," said Ivan Schrader, Special Counsel for Adair, Lewis and Knox counties.

The largest part of the budget that affects all three counties is the Bruce Normile Juvenile Justice center located in Kirksville.

"The juvenile center and the juvenile office operation really is the biggest part of our budget. It's the biggest single operation we have in the fact that we have a $3.1 million facility here that has residential and secure units, which makes it a focus of interest, I think," added Judge Steele.

The budget for the center also covers travel expenses for meetings, food supplies and basic utilities.

Although the 2014 budget is not yet finalized, elected officials are predicting it will be higher than previous years.

"From what we heard today, I think it's going to be kind of in line, it's a little more then it was, but we will get through it. We've got some changes to make after we get home and get it all reviewed, and then we will see how it looks," said Stan Pickens, Adair County Presiding Commissioner.

The hearing allowed the officials to work together to propose different ideas to save money for the upcoming year, including an E-filing system to save on costs for office supplies.

"I think the meeting today was productive. It's always good when you've got the same people dealing on the same subject to be sitting in the same room," Schrader added.

The elected officials from Adair, Knox and Lewis counties will not meet as a group again to discuss the budget for 2014. The commissioners will now meet with an attorney at their respective courthouses to finalize and review the budget before it's due.