Proposed county budget now available, commission to take action Sept. 3

Cascade County Commissioners are holding a public hearing on their budget on Sept. 3.

Their meeting is at 9:30 a.m. in the courthouse annex.

The budget is for the fiscal year that began July 1 and the full document is available in the commission office and online here.

During the Sept. 3 meeting, the county budget officer will make a presentation about the proposed budget.

This budget has been challenging, commissioners said during their Aug. 27 meeting due to minimal newly taxable property revenues and continued tax protests from Calumet Montana Refining and other major property owners. Energy West is expected to protest their new taxable valuations, according to the city finance office, and that will also impact the county budget.

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Trudi Schmidt attended the Aug. 27 meeting and asked commissioners to consider jail diversion programs in their budget.

Commissioners, Sheriff Jesse Slaughter and County Attorney Josh Racki have been working for about a year on pre-trial programs, but during the Aug. 27 meeting, Commissioner Joe Briggs said they are “having a very difficult time figuring out how to fund it. Right now, it is not in the budget.”

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Briggs said it’s not required for the county to post the budget a week in advance, but said the commissioners feel it’s important to have the budget publicly available before the commission takes action at the Sept. 3 meeting.

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“This has been a very difficult budget,” Briggs said.

He said the lack of development means there’s less newly taxable property and costs continue to rise.

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Department heads have been asked to cut costs and during the Aug. 28 Expo Park advisory board meeting, Briggs said the county might not be able to complete work on the Paddock Club this budget year.