Meru County Assembly has passed the 2018/2019 budget amid calls for measures to tame ballooning wage bill.
The Appropriation Bill was passed on Thursday, 12 days after the June 30 deadline, with Meru County Speaker blaming the Executive for failing to deliver the document on time.
Meru workers will take up Sh4.5 billion (44 percent) of the Sh10.2 billion budget while Sh3.06 billion (30 percent) will go to development projects.
An analysis of the last five budgets shows the wage bill has increased from Sh2.4 billion in 2013 to Sh4.5 billion, an 87.5 percent increment.
Early this year, Governor Kiraitu Murungi fired 1,000 casual workers in bid to reduce the wage bill.
Meru County Assembly Finance and Appropriation Committee chairman Julius Mbijiwe said they had advised the county government to assess human resource needs for every department and distribute staff where they are needed, instead of hiring more.
“The law sets the salaries threshold at 35 percent of the total budget while development should not go below 30 percent. There is need to address the growing appetite for paying salaries because the local revenue is not growing. There is need to assess the human resource needs for every department and distribute staff where they are needed,” Mr Mbijiwe said.
He said the proposed staff rationalisation should be conducted after retirement of 120 workers this year.
The health department took the lion share of the budget with Sh3.1 billion with its workers set to gobble up Sh2.2 billion while development will take up Sh382.8 million.
Each of the 46 wards in Meru has been allocated Sh20 million with bursaries and construction of Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) centres given most of the funds.
Ward representatives also voted against purchase of motor vehicles this financial year and urged the Executive to implement a carpooling plan.
“We cannot afford to spend more money on buying vehicles because we do not have enough money. The budget has been directed towards repair and servicing the existing fleet which should be accessible to all county officers,” Mr Mbijiwe said.
The county aims to raise Sh863 million but the Finance minister Titus Ntuchiu said he was confident local revenue would hit Sh1 billion this year.