County budget available for public review, comment
The Cascade County proposed budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 is now available for public review and comment.
Commissioners are set to hold a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 1 via Zoom to adopt the budget, which includes a tax increase of about $1 per month for those living outside the county with a home valued at $160,000.
Within the city limits, the tax increase is about $1.18 for a home valued around $200,000, according to Mary Embleton, county budget officer.
This year’s budget includes levying 5.75 more mills for county taxes since the taxable values countywide decreased this year, in part due to the Calumet Montana Refining tax appeal settlement, Embleton said.
There was no public comment during the initial Aug. 26 budget presentation.
The proposed budget includes a 3.1 percent increase in spending including:
- Montana Expo Park Projects
- Grandstand completion $23,152
- Water main line replacement $409,792 (contract awarded in July: County approves $409k contract for water main project at Expo Park)
- Misc. landscape and infrastructure improvements for a total of just over $1 million invested (Commissioners approve multiple contracts for repairs at Montana Expo Park)
- Juvenile Detention Center classrooms additions and roof replacement completion $69,743 (County approves projects for juvenile, adult detention centers)
- $558,880 in heavy equipment purchases and $616,000 in fleet purchases, including the $318,592 approved for six CCSO vehicles during the Aug. 26 meeting)
- ADC equipment: body scanner $160,000; chiller replacement $150,000
- CCSO equipment: side scan sonar $47,281; morgue $18,383 (County gets grant for new morgue at sheriff’s office)
- Additional $1 million in capital outlay for various projects/departments
- 1 percent non-union cost of living adjustments for county employees and elected officials; other staff specific salary increases to better align with assigned duties (County finalizes raises for elected officials, deputies, non-union employees)
- Departments instructed to hold all other budget items level for FY 2020/21.
Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said that the first scanner they tested at the jail didn’t meet their needs.
During the Aug. 26 meeting, commissioners approved an agreement with Adani Systems Inc. to demo a Conpass DV Futl body scanner machine at the jail for 60 days at no cost to the county.
Slaughter told The Electric that he has budgeted to purchase a scanner, but won’t make the purchase until he tests the equipment.
Slaughter is also hiring two full-time civilian courthouse bailiffs for making official court proclamations and announcements in the local district court. A sword deputy will remain as courthouse security, he said.
The budget includes an overall increase of 1.6 percent from property tax revenues, including motor vehicles.
The county is estimating a 4.26 increase in tits entitlement share from the state, plus an overall increase in revenues from other state and federal resources, totaling a 13.8 percent increase, mostly from grants, according to Embleton.
The permissive medical levy is decreasing slightly due to a decrease in healthcare premiums through the Montana Association of Counties plan from $623 per month to $615.
The county is also budgeting for about $500,000 of COVID-19 related funding for the Cascade County City-County Health Department, Aging Services and the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office.
Questions and comments can be sent to Mary Embleton, budget officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 454-6731 or the commissioners at email@example.com or 454-6810.