Commissioners put Red Willow County on fiscal diet

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Red Willow County commissioners returned proposed 2007-08 budgets to elected officials Monday morning, asking them to help the county reduce spending by $347,000.

Commission Chairman Earl McNutt said, during commissioners' weekly meeting, "If we give everybody what they ask for, our budget is over by $346,910."

He continued, "It's that time of year. We have to talk about money, and it's no fun."

County Assessor Sandra Kotschwar certified to commissioners that the county's 2007 total taxable value is $616,771,106, with a 2007 value attributable to growth, (including real and personal property), of $3,552,163.

The county's valuation has increased from $601,880,633 in 2005-2006 to $611,579,294 in 2006-07. McNutt said, "Our growth is lower than we've seen in a few years."

Commissioners are proposing budget cuts in the county's health insurance program and transfers from inheritance to the general and roads funds, to generate about $200,000 in savings. County officials -- including the commissioners, who write the roads department budget -- will be asked to come up with the remaining $150,000.

Commissioners were pleased with budgets from Greg Holthus, the county's maintenance supervisor. Holthus proposes budgeted expenses of $115,710, down from budgeted expenses for 2006-2007 of $118,500. Holthus' actual expenses last year were $97,572.

The county surveyor's proposed budget also decreased, from $26,314 proposed for 2006-2007 to $21,000 proposed for 2007-2008. Surveyor Gary Dicenta's actual expenses in 2006-2007 were $14,817.

Commissioners have proposed up to a $.75/hour raise for salaried and part-time employees. The amount of an individual's raise is at the discretion of his/her employer/elected county official. Elected county officials were guaranteed annual raises of 3 percent, (in December 2005, prior to their election in 2006) for the 2007-2010 term of office.

However, salaries for the three commissioners, the county attorney and the county surveyor (each a part-time position) were frozen for the same time period.

Commissioners plan a public hearing on the budget Sept. 10; the completed/approved budget must be submitted to the State of Nebraska by Sept. 20.

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