The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

County Budget Near Approval

Spending Plan On Oct. 1 Agenda, Includes 1.5% Raise For County Staff

 


The Valley County budget is still getting some last minute adjustments before the commissioners look at passing the finalized budget in the upcoming week. While there wasn't a lot of changes made from the previous year there were a few noteworthy items.

The commissioners support a 1.5 percent raise in salary for county employees across all departments. That increase adds to about 30 cents an hour for employees. The raise was eligible for employees who worked at least 20 hours and were permanent employees who qualify for insurance, leaving temporary and seasonal employees out of the raise. That raise would be retroactive to some employees starting July 1, 2014.

With the raise passing unanimously on Wednesday, Sept. 10, the budget has had to be changed for all departments. County Commissioner Bruce Peterson explained that some of the funds are being pulled from other areas to make up for the raise.

Insurance also went up around 3.5 percent this year. The commissioners stated that this was the lowest rise in insurance in recent years. That also caused some slight increases and strains to the budget.

The elections will increase as one employee gets ready to retire and an extra person will need to be hired on to replace the position. A grant is also in the budget from Homeland Security to help purchase a $50,000 generator for the courthouse. Peterson said that the courthouse runs on a generator now with the bare basics, and the new generator would help cover more if there were an outage. The old generator will be used at another location.

Roads also saw a fairly significant increase – an additional $300,000 was added on. Peterson said that the increase was due to a rise in fuel costs and the department planning for a worst case scenario in the upcoming year. The rural fire department also saw a rise in the budget, around a 26 percent increase for what Peterson called a worse case scenario. He explained that they might not exhaust the budget, but it would be budgeted in if the need was there.

The county gave a slight boost to the library to help with finishing up improvements and to raise the what the county gives per population. The museum fund was also boosted from $31,000 to $$44,000.

The health department saw the most slashes to its budget. Peterson explained that a lot of those slashes had to do with the grants coming into the department. Their emergency planning and a bioterrorism grant saw a drop, along with their immunization and family planning grants.

The budget showed that it could be a tough year for the department, but with the many changes ongoing there's hope for better years ahead.

The budget also showed a wide array of uses for PILT funds. Much of the PILT funds being used are to help cover the road and bridge department, Council on Aging and several others.

A line item still remains for the Keystone Capital Improvement plan, for $1.86 million to be used to improve roads where man camps might be located. That item will remain on the budget just in case the Keystone XL pipeline does end up coming through.

The commissioners will have the budget on the upcoming agenda for Wednesday, Oct. 1. The public is invited to be there at 10:30 for questions and comments.

 

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