July 19, 2019

County gets good news about budget - Daily Leader Extra : Top Stories

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County gets good news about budget

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Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2019 3:31 pm

Lake County commissioners do not have to sharpen their pencils and make deep cuts this year as they did last year, according to Lake County Auditor Bobbi Janke.

"At the moment, I have no concerns about this budget," she said on Tuesday morning, encouraging commissioners to take budget requests home and review them.

While Janke has not yet covered revenue which the county will receive, commissioners have received the final requests for Fiscal Year 2020 from community organizations and county offices. An early draft of the 2020 budget indicates those requests total $8,958,515.

"I think all the departments did a good job of keeping their expenses down," Janke told commissioners.

She also reported that with growth at 1.77% and the Consumer Price Index for 2019 at 2.4%, property taxes could be increased by 4.17%. This would allow the county to levy an additional $172,599.73.

Last year after all budget requests had been submitted, Janke told the commission that cuts were necessary, in part because the county would lose revenue when My Dakota Address, a service which allowed individuals to license vehicles in Lake County without establishing residency, closed. She also expressed concerns about the budget request submitted by the county Highway Department, which would have required a $1.3 million operating transfer out of the general fund.

On Tuesday morning, as department heads who had not previously presented their requests did so, changes were modest. Staff salaries were not discussed.

-- Treasurer Deb Walburg decreased expenditures in most areas, asking for a small increase for professional services. She explained a fee is sometimes charged when papers are served in other counties, and she sometimes has to check the legal descriptions for property with title companies.

-- Director of Equalization Rick Becker increased travel, conferences and dues to reflect cost increases. Training for new hires will also be covered by that increase. Requests in other areas remained the same or were decreased.

Becker did speak with commissioners about updates which will show up on Beacon, a web-based Geographic Information System (GIS), as a result of recent aerial photography. The site is used by the Planning Commission, Equalization Office and other county officials.

-- Shelli Gust, commission administrative officer, reviewed the budget request for the State's Attorney's office, which did not include any increases.

-- Clerk of Courts Linda Klosterman presented the budget request for the judicial system. With no major cases pending, the request is lower for 2020 than budgeted for 2019. However, increases were requested for court-ordered services and for court-appointed counsel.

Janke suggested further increasing the request for court-appointed counsel, in part, because the county is not contracting with a public defender, and because a single case in 2019 cost $75,438. For FY 2019, $159,000 was budgeted for court-appointed counsel and the public defender; $100,000 is being requested for 2020.

-- Veterans Service Officer Courtney VanZanten presented a budget which reflects a change in her job responsibilities. In addition to working for the county, she works for the South Dakota American Legion. Her hours with the county were reduced from 19 to 16, and some of her training expenses are now covered by the Legion.

-- 911 Communications Director April Denholm submitted a budget which included increased costs in the area of rentals, such as an increase in the cost of the teletype service. However, most line items remained the same.

-- Sheriff Tim Walburg focused on three areas in making his request for the Sheriff's Office: purchasing an SUV with a kennel for the canine patrol, replacing sidearms for two deputies, and the cost of server maintenance which was reflected in an increase to the repairs and maintenance line in his budget.

In speaking about the jail budget, he proposed changes to the nursing contract, which increased the cost from $3,000 to $5,200. He explained a small increase to prisoner meals by saying the cost for accommodating special diets was higher.

Janke suggested budgeting more for prisoner meals. In FY 2018, $98,136 was spent. In FY 2019, $82,000 was budgeted. For FY 2020, $84,000 is being requested.

Walburg also asked for an increase for jail maintenance. In FY 2018, $8,041 was spent. In FY 2019, $12,500 was requested. For FY 2020, $16,500 is being requested. The budget for the 24/7 program also showed an increase. In FY 2018, $40,263 was spent for supplies. In FY 2019, $23,000 was budgeted. For FY 2020, $35,000 is being requested.

-- Emergency Management Director Kody Keefer presented three budgets. While most areas remained the same, a small increase was requested to do regular generator maintenance and to purchase a used sandbagger to make sandbags.

The dive team budget showed small increases for training and equipment. Janke noted that the donation received for this service has been spent and the county will have to fund a portion of these expenses.

The GIS request included materials and supplies for the plotter. Keefer said he printed maps for both the fire department and dispatch this year.

-- Janke presented the elections budget, which is larger due to the presidential election. She also described new voting and tabulation equipment the county will receive out of a state grant.

The budget for the auditor's office did not show any increases. An additional $3,000 was requested for the mental illness board. The information technology budget was decreased because the FY 2019 budget included a new server.

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