County budget proposal calls for 2.1% spending cut

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Flathead County commissioners are expected to vote Tuesday on a preliminary operating budget for fiscal year 2021-22 that would cut spending by about 2.1%.

The proposed budget is around $ 115.8 million, which is less than the current budget of $ 118.3 million, mainly because the county no longer operates a health clinic.

The Flathead Community Health Center, established in 2007 as a division of the Flathead City-County Health Department, split up late last month to operate as a private, non-profit organization with a new name: Greater Valley Health Center.

The clinic’s budget under county leadership was approximately $ 5.9 million. But the county also recently took over management of the Flathead Emergency Communications Center, after voters passed a voting measure in November that changed the funding structure of the local 911 service. This brought the total reduction in the proposed operating budget for the next fiscal year to approximately $ 2.48 million.

The proposed budget also includes a $ 2 million increase in capital spending, an increase of $ 170,000 for bridge maintenance, an increase of $ 441,000 for the planned expansion of the county animal shelter, an increase $ 249,000 for election administration and an increase of $ 1.2 million for solid waste disposal.

The county would spend about $ 1.3 million less on roads due to fewer planned capital improvement projects.

The proposed budget includes funding for three major construction projects slated for the next fiscal year – $ 2 million for continued expansion of the county landfill; $ 750,000 to begin a renovation of Courthouse West, home to the county’s Department of Motor Vehicles; and $ 5.2 million for the ongoing renovation of the North Campus building, the future seat of the County Treasurer’s Office, County School Superintendent’s Office, Motor Vehicle Department, Accounting Department, of the Department of Elections and Family Court Services.

Commissioners approved a 2% cost of living increase for the county’s 539 employees. With the addition of the equivalent of 5.73 new positions over the next fiscal year, this will represent a payroll increase of approximately $ 1.4 million.

The new positions would include a full-time land specialist in the county meal room, a full-time finance technician, a full-time coroner and a part-time code compliance technician in the planning and control department. zoning. Other new part-time jobs with the county would include a seasonal environmental health program assistant, seasonal mosquito technician, landfill attendant and container site monitor.

Commissioners will also vote on a five-year capital improvement plan on Tuesday and will officially accept pandemic aid and economic stimulus funding from the US bailout that Congress passed in March. Amy Dexter, the county’s finance director, said that includes nearly $ 20.2 million in direct support and nearly $ 4.4 million for water and sewer projects.

Commissioners will vote on the preliminary budget and five-year capital improvement plan at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Public comments will be taken from 8:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Associate Editor Chad Sokol can be reached at 406-758-4439 or csokol@dailyinterlake.com.

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