More to the budget than reported

Thursday, October 3, 2019

To the Editor,

 

Last week the Carbon County News wrote an article about the County Budget. The article attempted to summarize 219 pages of budget material into a handful of paragraphs.

The author writes about “motor vehicle fees have been raised substantially to help pay for items such as road and bridge.” There is no example to verify the statement. If one looks at our 2019-2020 Revenue Budget, they will see that indeed on pages 1-20 there is a roughly 400-550% increase on motor vehicle TAXES (not fees) for several departments. Sounds terrible right? Since the CCN used Road and Bridge as the beneficiaries for this increase let us look at the details: 

On page 5 (roads) there is an increase from $55 last year to $319 this year and on page 7 (bridges) the increase is from $24 last year to $128 this fiscal year. This is not per vehicle...this is total for the county. Together that equals a total budget increase of $368 for the entire road and bridge budget. With almost 900 miles in county that equals about $0.41 per mile of road...beside the point this is a tax we have no control over it also has virtually no impact to the county or your checking account for that matter. These vehicle taxes she refers to adds up to about $1000 total for the year. On a $15 million-dollar budget that is about 0.006% or about $0.10 per citizen of Carbon County. 

The rest of article is more of the same. Lots of gaudy percentage increases with virtually no explanation as to why. We think most of you understand budgets are fluid and change from year to year. One can probably assume if we raise our tire budget it is because maybe we need tires. We increased that line by $1200 dollars to buy two more sets if needed.

We are adding a secretary position to do secretary work rather than having someone that has a higher level of training/wage doing filing and answering phones. The original request for more office support was for a different department that already does some of the commissioner secretarial work. That position would have been a higher wage. By moving these responsibilities to this new position, we feel it was a win for both departments. 

Health insurance went up in all departments just like most taxpayer’s health insurance has gone up in the last year. The large raise picked out in this article was about the Justice court. The reason the Justice court went up at a higher rate was because in previous years one of their employees had not utilized county insurance until this year. On a side note we did have a request for insurance proposals last spring and received one official proposal as two other companies simply told us they could not beat what we currently have. 

Lastly in the Sheriff Department’s budget the change in training is because coroner certification requirements have changed since last year. Almost all of our deputies are coroners. The last Sheriff budget item regarding Other Purchased Services was for the DUI Task Force Budget. The line was increased to provide more assistance to municipal law enforcement for DUIs. All revenues are generated by license reinstatement fees from people that have received DUIs.

The CCN could have reported that we cut $302,150 dollars out of the original budget requests in order the balance the budget. The CCN could have reported about the pressure we had to decrease county reserves in order to balance the budget. The CCN news could have reported that instead of lowering reserves we cut the budget to keep our reserves at 29%. (Counties can legally have 32% reserves most have much less than 29%) The CCN could have reported overall total budget expenditures are down $190,234 from the previous fiscal year. We look forward to an article next few weeks addressing the total budget.

 

Sincerely,

 

Robert “Pits” DeArmond

Bridger-District #1 Commissioner

 

Scott Blain

Joliet-District #2 Commissioner

 

Bill E. Bullock

Red Lodge-District #3 Commissioner

 

Category:

The Carbon County News

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