Canadian County juvenile center reserves remain strong despite sales tax drop

County Commissioners OK facility’s $9.3M fiscal year 2021 budget

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Melanie Johnson

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

EL RENO – The Canadian County juvenile center’s $9.3 million annual budget is only slightly up over last year, and the center still has about $6.2 million in reserves as county sales tax revenue declines.

Canadian County Commissioners, at their Jan. 11th meeting, approved the fiscal year 2021 budget for the Canadian County Children’s Justice Center at 7905 E State Highway 66.

The FY21 budget totals $9,297,721.66 in projected revenues and expenditures, representing a modest 2.1% increase over the FY20 budget of $9,103,069.42.

“There were no significant changes in the budget,” CCCJC Director Melanie Johnson told county commissioners. “Our reserves are still significant.”

The CCCJC’s newly approved FY21 budget shows a projected $7.2 million in sales tax revenue (about $600,000 per month), an estimated $892,000 in contract revenue plus $1.1 million in unused “carryover” funds from the FY20 budget.

Canadian County voters in the mid-1990s approved a ballot measure to implement a .35% countywide sales tax used to help fund the juvenile center’s operations.

But Canadian County has seen a steady decline in monthly sales tax collections over the past year during an economic downturn.

“Our sales tax has not been performing to that level ($600,000 monthly),” District 2 County Commissioner Dave Anderson said. “It’s close.”

District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart interjected, “That’s why I’m very concerned we have a reserve.”

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AMPLE RESERVES

The county’s juvenile center still has an ample reserve fund – totaling about $6.2 million – that may be used monthly to augment its two primary revenue sources, the county sales tax and contracts.

“If we continue to see the flat line on the revenue side, we’re going to have to deal with it,” Anderson noted.

The CCCJC’s FY21 budget presented to county commissioners does not reflect income from smaller revenue sources, such as leases for the new Cardinal Point family justice center and farm property. This CCCJC budget document is not a financial statement and does not show the center’s assets, Anderson said.

“The budget for the juvenile center really is something that we do to communicate between the commissioners and the management at the center,” he explained. “It’s not statutory and there’s nothing that says they’re forced to submit a budget annually.

“It’s really a ‘projected spending picture’.”

The budget funds the center’s “ongoing activities”, Anderson added.

Although Canadian County Commissioners are not required to approve the CCCJC budget annually, the District 2 commissioner noted “the three of us are responsible for the management.”

Because Canadian County sales tax revenues have been low, District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader said he previously expressed to CCCJC officials the desire to “maintain as flat a budget as we can.”

With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Canadian County Commissioners were back Jan. 11 practicing that good ole’ social distancing at their weekly meeting in El Reno: From left, District 2 Commissioner Dave Anderson, County Clerk Sherry Murray, District 3 Commissioner Jack Stewart, District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader. Anderson, Murray and Stewart also have been wearing face masks at the meeting. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

In other business at their Jan. 11th meeting, Canadian County Commissioners approved:
• Renewing Clarence McLoud’s six-year term as a District 2 representative on the six-member Canadian County Floodplain Board.
• A resolution allowing the CCCJC to accept a $40 donation from the Mustang Church of the Nazarene to help fulfill the center’s mission.

County jail administrator Kristie Carter gave the weekly county jail report, showing 210 total inmates.