County reviews 2014 budget

Ward County Commissioners met with county departmental heads all day Thursday from 8 a.m. until after the close of the Ward County Courthouse at 4:30 p.m. to review budgets for the 2014 fiscal year.

The department heads were each given a loose allotment of 30 minutes or so to present the major changes in their budgets from last year in both expenditures and revenue.

“We made a motion on the preliminary budget to slash it, basically, by over a million dollars,” said commissioner John Fjeldahl to The Minot Daily News in summary of the day’s events.

That is for the initial proposals by department heads, or basically their rough drafts.

They have until Tuesday, the next regular commission meeting, to submit their edited proposals for further review by the commissioners. That’s the day the commissioners will adopt the preliminary budgets, or what Fjeldahl referred to as a “work in progress.”

“What we’re targeting is trying to limit the growth in our budget to the real growth of the county,” Fjeldahl continued. “Not the new assessed-value growth, but the new structures and all of that. We’re trying to hold it to the line to keep people’s taxes from increasing.”

The budget increase over last year was over $2 million as far as taxes needed to be levied to pay for increases. That is outside of a department’s own produced revenue.

Of note is the presentation of Emergency Services Manager Amanda Schooling, who said that up to 50 percent of her salary and that of her employees are covered by federal emergency grants. Some contract workers receive even a greater percentage of their wages from the federal government based on the degree of emergency or disaster they are working on.