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$12 million budget unveiled for Lincoln County

The Western News | September 7, 2021 7:00 AM

County commissioners unanimously approved a balanced, preliminary budget representing nearly $12 million in appropriations on Sept. 1.

Budget staff were aided in putting together the financial roadmap by an increase in the value of mills they could levy. Officials had 97.87 county mills valued at $41,351 to work with this year compared to 104.46 mills valued at $37,319 last year.

An influx of coronavirus funds this year also helped underwrite the budget. The county received $3.88 million as part of the American Rescue Plan.

“Next year is going to be interesting when we don’t have that. If we don’t have that. You never know,” said County Commissioner Brent Teske (D-1).

Last year, officials struggled down to the wire to balance the budget. Between their approval of the preliminary and final budgets, county staff had to trim about $200,000.

Commissioner Jerry Bennett (D-2) thanked members of the county finance department for their work in crafting the budget.

“It’s been a roller coaster for a couple of years but especially this year with taking the ball and running with it,” said Bennett. “We really appreciate that.”

Commissioners were hoping to meet with officials from the sheriff's office to discuss the department’s budget before the Sept. 8 final hearing on the county budget. In a follow-up interview, Bennett said he hoped to discuss discrepancies that Undersheriff Brent Faulkner found in the department’s budget. While Bennett did not have a copy of it on hand, he said he did not expect the discussions — and any subsequent changes — to alter the county’s overall spending plan.

Public safety, which comprises the sheriff’s office, represents the largest appropriation share listed in the preliminary budget, coming in at $4.94 million. The figure is up from $4.5 million listed in last year’s final budget.

The county general fund, at nearly $4.22 million, is the next largest appropriation. The largest department shares after public safety are the library, the court district and the ambulance with appropriations of $410,648, $329,945 and $231,979, respectively.

The preliminary budget lists just over $5 million in non-tax revenues.

County Clerk and Recorder Robin Benson noted officials had secured a series of grants that would bring in additional non-tax revenue. Wendy Drake, who manages accounting for the county, said she had not yet run the numbers on the non-levy portion of the county budget.

Teske provided a motion to accept the preliminary budget. Josh Letcher offered a second.