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Press Release – Bonner County Budgeting!

The challenge was given and our good people rose to meet it. Bonner County is now back on the road towards fiscal responsibility.

Bonner County Seal Greenprint Budgeting

Press Release – Bonner County Budgeting for FY 2018

Bonner County Commissioners, Elected Officials and Department Heads are nearing the end of the budgeting process for fiscal year 2018. A number of issues have been addressed in order to provide a more fiscally responsible budget for County operations.

Over the last eight years Bonner County’s total budget has increased 41% from  $38,822,915 to $54,745,817 while our total projected revenues from all sources only increased 16% from $35,222,124 to $40,951,763. Two years ago the Commissioners were advised by the County Auditor’s that this use of savings to fund ongoing operating expenses was not advisable and not sustainable.

It can be argued that many of our current budget challenges came from actions approved under previous Boards of Commissioners as well as expensive litigation over an extended period of time.  When the housing market fell County employee numbers were cut appropriately but as the economy and the market recovered the County not only filled empty positions but added several new departments and a number of new employees.

During the first round of our recent budget workshops all three Commissioners found agreement in recommending numerous cuts. Unfortunately when the requested budget enhancements were added to the baseline budgets the numbers remained at an unsustainable level.

To deal with this situation we held a Department Head meeting where Mike Rosedale our County Clerk laid out the issues regarding the unsustainable growth and requested ideas on how to make the budget work. We had a good discussion and Commissioner Dan McDonald challenged the Elected Officials and Department Heads to find additional cuts so we could bridge the budget gap.

Through the exceptional work of our Department Heads and Elected Officials we made further budget adjustments enabling us to reach our budget goal for this next fiscal year.  Even our smallest departments found ways to cut their budgets.

The challenge was given and our good people rose to meet it. Bonner County is now back on the road towards fiscal responsibility.

While it’s not yet confirmed, it appears Bonner County will be cutting close to $5 million from the budget which may reduce the levy rate on property taxes for the 2018 fiscal year.

1 Comment on Press Release – Bonner County Budgeting!

  1. Recently the Bonner County Commissioners had a press release about the current County Budget process. In that release, the comment was made that “two years ago the Commissioners were advised by the County Auditor that the use of savings to fund ongoing operating expenses was not advisable and not sustainable”. In addition, it was stated that “many of our budget challenges came from actions approved under previous Boards of Commissioners….”.

    First I would like to address the “savings account” of the County. There isn’t one!! Under Idaho State Statute 31-1605A Counties operate on a cash basis. When I was in office I, and my fellow Commissioners, balanced income and expenses. As a result, in 2015-16 there was no levy increase. In 2016-17 there was a 1/2% increase to cover and anticipated overage on the fiber optic project bid. In addition, the County paid down debt by $1.2 million in 2015. When I left office the only debt owed by the County was $1.5 million owed on the County office building. No money was taken from any savings account to fund County operations.

    As to advice on “savings” withdrawals by the County Auditor, I could find no such comment by Hayden Ross, County external auditors, nor do I remember any such comment from our internal auditors. Again, there is no savings account! By State Statute the only savings account the Commissioners can set up is one to do long term funding for the County jail. Use of those funds is strictly limited to that project and only that project.

    An additional comment was made that “Bonner County is now back on the road to fiscal responsibility”. Disparaging former Commissioners to make yourself look good makes this “press release” sound like a campaign speech(there is an election next year).

    Todd Sudick
    Former Bonner County Commissioner

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