Commissioners send budgets back

Tuesday, August 1, 2006


Regional Editor

Red Willow County commissioners will ask every county official to re-evaluate their proposed budgets and justify all expenses over-and-above those of last year.

Following a budget workshop during their regular meeting Monday morning, commissioners agreed to return proposed budgets to elected officials and ask them to make enough cuts to ensure that the county does not exceed a growth lid mandated by the state.

Using preliminary figures from county officials, proposed budgets exceed the growth lid by $307,184, budget clerk Shirley Volz told commissioners. There are only two ways to address the amount over the lid, Volz said: "You can raise taxes, or you have to cut expenses."

Commissioner Leigh Hoyt suggested, "sending the budgets back to everyone. If they can't make cuts or changes, we will."

The biggest area of contention Monday morning was salary increases for employees other than the county officials, whose salaries were set by resolution in December before they filed for office.

In their proposed budgets, some county officials are recommending raises ranging anywhere from $1,300 to $2,500 per employee. Commission Chairman Earl McNutt admitted that several proposed budgets had been turned in before commissioners decided on July 24 that the maximum salary increase would be approximately $1,300.

Commissioners decided Monday morning to authorize a salary increase of $.65 per hour based on a 40-hour work week, and to give county officials the right to allocate the resulting total salary increase at their own discretion. McNutt explained that if a county official has five employees, the total salary increase of approximately $6,500 can be distributed among the five employees as he/she sees fit.

County officials will be asked to return revised budgets to Volz by Friday, before the commissioners' next budget workshop Aug. 7.

In other action, commissioners:

* Renewed a contract with Prichard and Abbott for oil and gas appraisal services. The contract, for 2007-08, is for $3,300 a year, plus an additional $750 per day for a hearing/hearings in McCook.

* Tabled the signing of a letter of support for the City of North Platte's household hazardous waste collection program.

* Signed an agreement with Figgins Construction Co., Inc., for summer armor coating projects.

* Approved an agreement to pay Region II Human Services in support of mental health and substance abuse programs for 2006-2007.

* Signed an application to Companion Life Insurance Company for aggregate and specific excess loss insurance and a specific advancement rider.

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