BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – A $11.7 million county budget will be submitted to the public on March 7 with a levy of $10.388/$1,000 assessed valuation..
County budget director Cindy Renstrom submitted the final budget at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors. The budget sets the levy at the same rate as 2017 and Renstrom says the county can whittle away at Mental Health Services and debt service to offset about $500,000 in additional budget shortfall for 2018, however, the budget worksheet still shows a deficit of about $1.58 million for 2018.
The county has budgeted a fund balance at the end of the fiscal year 2017 of $12.2 million and projected 2018 ending fund balance of $10.6 million.
Supervisors also asked all department heads to reduce their budget.
“I was able to get the deficit down to $1,059,000 by taking out the deficits for mental health and debt service,” Renstrom said. “So we left the levy the same as last year.”
Board Chairman Rick Larkin said he appreciated all the work of staff to help reduce the deficit.
“We asked all the departments to come through with with a 1 percent decrease in their budget. Which they all did,” Larkin said. “We appreciate that and thank the elected officials and department heads for working with the board.”
Renstrom also said she cut $250,000 at the direction of the board from the county’s own economic stimulus fund. The county, after several meetings and discussions, decided to continue their $210,000 commitment to the Lee County Economic Development board. The board also had Renstrom pull a proposed $160,000 maintenance building out of the budget for the engineering department.
Another hotly debated budget was the sheriff’s department’s budget which included funding for a canine unit, two additional deputies and a part-time jail clerk. Sheriff Stacy Weber told the board on several occasions that private funds will probably be sufficient to cover all the costs of the canine unit as private support has been overwhelming.
If that’s the case Renstrom said the funds for the dog would just stay in the budget.
“We also talked about the sheriff’s department and staff and decided to leave all the personnel needs in there.” Larkin said.