County considers fiscal year budget of $98.6 million

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The Flathead County Commissioners will consider approval of a $98.6 million preliminary expenditure budget for fiscal year 2019 to 2020 during a public meeting Wednesday.

The proposed budget, comprised of all tax and non-tax funds, is almost an 8% increase from last year’s budget, due largely to a county payroll increase of $2.8 million, a $1.8 million increase in capital expenditures, $1.3 million for increased insurance costs and an increase of $778,000 for the Flathead County Solid Waste District’s operating budget, according to a budget memorandum prepared by county Administrator Mike Pence.

The commissioners also approved a 2.4% cost-of-living raise for Flathead County employees, of which there are currently 540.

The proposed budget adds 3.9 full-time equivalent employees, including three positions in the Sheriff’ Department for two school resource officers and one pretrial services program employee. The two school resource officers will be jointly funded by Flathead Electric Cooperative and the Evergreen and Bigfork school districts.

The budget outlines only two large capital outlays. The first is $2 million for a landfill entrance and scale project. The second is the addition of required sand and salt buildings at the Flathead County Road and Bridges Department, totaling $458,000.

The proposed budget consideration and approval is “to provide proper spending authority” for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. The final budget adoption will occur in late August, pending valuation numbers that are provided by the Montana Department of Revenue in early August. After the state sends valuations, Flathead County officials finalize revenue numbers and calculate any changes to mill levies.

Commissioners will also consider adoption of the Flathead County capital improvement plan for fiscal years 2020 to 2024. The plan is a working document that acts as a guideline for county capital expenditures, but expenditures are subject to final approval.

According to a separate press release from the commissioners, new facilities for the ImagineIF Library systems were pulled from the capital improvement plan, as was funding for a community gym.

“Funding previously planned to go toward a community gym will be reallocated for repairs and maintenance on trails the county is responsible for maintaining,” the press release reads.

Public comments regarding the budget and capital improvement plan will be taken from 8:30 to 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on the third floor of the courthouse in Kalispell.

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