Counties are grappling with a huge bill that threatens to derail development activities at the local governments.
A quick analysis of county budgets that have reported their estimates for the fiscal year 2018/19 shows that the devolved units are spending between 60 and 65 percent of their budgets on recurrent expenses.
This is despite early this year the controller of budget raising concern over the swelling recurrent vote at the county level.
For the more than 20 devolved units that have tabled their annual expenditure plan, 50 shillings for every hundred shillings earned will be spent on paying workers.
The worst hit appears to be Baringo County where the county will spend 4.2 billion shillings of the 6.2 billion shillings budget to pay workers.
Baringo County Assembly Speaker David Kiplagat is also lost on what to do with the ballooning recurrent expenditure that currently stands at 51 percent.
Another county, Garrisa is also facing the same mess, the county health payroll has risen by more than 60 percent from 600 million shillings to 1.6 billion shillings in the next financial year that starts on the 1st of July.
However, despite rising payroll, most counties have seen a big drop in their revenue collection.
The 3rd quarter revenue report by the controller of budget shows that the 47 counties collected only 5 billion shillings which was a decline of 47.1 per cent compared to the 7.1 billion shillings generated in a similar period of 2016/17 raising serious questions about counties’ ability to raise their own revenue.
Nairobi County, which unveiled its budget estimates on Tuesday plans to spend 11 billion shillings on development out of the 31 billion shillings that the county plans to spend.
Treasury has already raised concerns over the swelling wage bill at the county level even as it grapples with a similar problem the national level.