Caldwell County ended the 2018 year with a positive balance although county revenues were down from the previous year. The county was able to pay off the remaining outstanding loan balance of $600,000 on the Caldwell County Detention Center from General Revenue funds. The county’s non- elected employees did receive a $1.00/ hour pay increase in 2018 which followed a $1.50/ hour pay increase in 2017. Starting salary for county employees was raised to $11.50/ hour after a 90 day probationary period. The county increased the county portion of medical insurance coverage paid by the county to a maximum of $500 per employee per month with a $4000 deductible available. Employees also receive a $30,000 county paid life insurance policy. Caldwell County has a total of 84 employees.
The Caldwell County commission worked together with the various county departments to reduce requested budget expenses to be more in line with available funds for 2019. With the budget adjustments, the county was able to offer all non-elected county employees a salary increase of fifty cents / hour. County health insurance premiums increased 20% over the last year premiums and the county will continue to pay $500 toward the employee health insurance plan. The county will continue to provide a $30,000 county paid life insurance policy per employee and also pay a portion of the employee retirement fund. The 2019 salary and fringe benefits increase will total approximately $80,000 in additional expenses to the county budget.
The county transferred a total of $286,000 from General Revenue to Law Enforcement to cover shortfalls in the projected law enforcement budget. One of the largest expenses in the law enforcement budget was the increased cost of the prosecuting attorney, whose salary increased from $48,000 to $140,000 in 2019. Caldwell County voters approved making the Caldwell County Prosecuting Attorney a full time position in 2018 and state statute sets the full time prosecuting attorney salary. The Caldwell County Detention Center continues to house from 130 to 140 U.S. Federal Marshall and Immigration inmates. Construction of a new outdoor recreation area is being considered to meet new INS (Immigration) standards. This would allow the current indoor recreation area to be re-purposed as a temporary holding area adding beds to increase the bed counts which will bring in additional revenues. Plans for construction of the Little Otter Creek Lake are expected to begin in the spring of 2020.
The complete 2019 Caldwell County budget is available to view at the county clerk’s office in Kingston