The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) spent the first three days of this week reviewing each department’s 2020 budget presentations. In a summary of the totals from all departments, finance director Curtis Lange projected revenues at $51,796,774 and expenses at $52,260,813 in 2020. Starting with a $464,039 deficit, by the end of the hearings on Wednesday afternoon, the commissioners had cut the next year’s budget expenses enough to project a surplus of nearly $400K.

Prior to this week’s hearings, county manager Kate McIntire spent weeks meeting with department heads as they prepared their budgets. The budgets, as presented, had been pared down, some significantly, to fund operational necessities in the coming year.  

The departments’ presented compelling testimony in support of their operating budgets, many of which were preliminarily approved or moderately adjusted. Commissioner chair Rich Cimino suggested departments review their staffing models and encouraged consolidation of positions and use of more part-time staff as a way to reduce personnel costs.

Departmental capital expenditures for vehicles is where most of the cuts were proposed. Cimino pressed to defer costs for replacement vehicles and equipment in Road & Bridge, the Sheriff’s Office, Coroner and EMS, knocking off about $575K in expense.

“I don’t think we should take all of these vehicle purchases away,” said commissioner Merrit Linke, adding, “these are high mileage vehicles and the need for replacement will not go away. We are kicking the can down the road. I think it’s very short sighted.” 

Lange had also sharpened his pencil and refined revenue amounts to project an increase of approximately $499K. He outlined the next steps in the 2020 budget process to the commissioners. Lange told them the budget numbers will be finalized by October 22; departments wishing to participate in the rebuttal hearings will be required to give notice by October 25; Rebuttal hearings are set for November 4; the final determination and budget message will be completed November 12; and, on December 10, all resolutions will be prepared to adopt the budget by the end of the year and will be sent to the state.  

While far from final, the commissioners’ goal in achieving a balanced budget, which includes a surplus of $400K, could very well be realized. 

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