Wednesday, August 9, 2006

County sets tentative budget at $22.6 million


By STEVE BENSON
Express Staff Writer

Blaine County commissioners unanimously approved the 2006-2007 fiscal year budget, tentatively set at $22,595,678, on Monday in Hailey.

The commissioners can make cuts to the tentative budget until Sept. 5, when it becomes final. The budget will become legally binding Sept. 11, which is when mill levy rates will also be determined.

The ambulance budget has been approved at $1,681,637.

The 2006-2007 budget is lower than last year's, which was set at $23 million. The reduction is mostly due to plans for a new county jail falling through. The Sheriff's Office was close to securing a new jail before 5th District Judge Barry Wood nixed the plans earlier this summer. Sheriff Walt Femling considers the current facility old and dilapidated.

The Sheriff's Office, however, did successfully land funding for a deputy in Carey. Currently, a deputy must travel from Hailey to Carey to respond to emergencies. Femling said that commute is unnecessarily time-consuming and costly. Femling also argued that a deputy in Carey would bring the county new revenue via traffic tickets.

The county commissioners approved the $39,062 necessary for a Carey deputy's salary, but have yet to approve the position.

The Sheriff's Office budget has been set at $1.77 million.

The county's total general fund—including the Sheriff's Office, county staff salaries, and public transit—totals more than $12 million.

A breakdown of the tentative county budget, by department, includes:

• Road and Bridge: $1,740,229.

• District Court: $190,970.

• County Fair: $34,199.

• Health District: $256.352.

• Historical Society and Museum: $205,000.

• Indigent: $362,649.

• Junior College Tuition: $130,000.

• Revaluation: $485,461.

• Solid Waste: $3,898,350.

• Weeds: $249,791.

• Nursing Home Operations: $2,295,730.

• Waterways: $42,342.

• 911 Emergency Operation: $492,341.

• Liability Insurance Fund: $166,957.




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