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3 county departments over budget, unexpended funds to cover shortfalls

SHERIDAN — Another fiscal year is in the books for Sheridan County after amendments were made to balance the budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 and the budget for fiscal year 2014-2015 was approved at the County Commission meeting Tuesday.

Three departments had expenditures go over budget. Shortfalls will be covered by a transfer of unexpended funds to the three department budgets, which include the county coroner for $5,600 for contract labor fees, the Clerk of District Court for $9,400 in legal services and the emergency management department for $1,900 to cover flood mitigation expenses.

Amendments were also made to add nearly $734,000 to expenses in the general fund and $925,000 to general fund revenues to adjust for unanticipated grants that were received and grant projects that were approved throughout the year.

“If you look at the totals, having three departments go over is not something we need to be concerned about,” Administrative Director Renee Obermueller said.

Commissioner Steve Maier said the budget amendment was clean compared to many other entities, and County Clerk Eda Schunk Thompson commended all departments for their wise spending over the year.

In fact, Schunk said, well-managed spending provided nearly $1.5 million in carryover funds that will be put toward balancing the budget for fiscal year 2015, making the amount needed from reserves approximately $230,000.

Total general fund expenditures for fiscal year 2015 are set at $16,797,947, which includes a modest raise for employees and coverage by the county of an increase in the employee contribution to Wyoming Retirement, keeping employee contributions at 4.62 percent.

“The only reason that the budget is up slightly is that we decided to appropriate $400,000 to archive a bunch of the records in the clerk’s office. She’s actually been wanting to do this for some time, and with the incident that recently happened at the county attorney’s office, we see the need to get this done, to have more of our records preserved in case something happens,” Commission Chairman Terry Cram said.

“It’s nice that we didn’t have any increase in health insurance this year. That’s something that’s going to help employees,” Cram added. “The increase in retirement that came from the state, the county’s going to pick that up, so this will be one of the few years when employees will actually see the raise that we’re giving them and it’s not eaten up in other ways.”

In other business, commissioners:

• announced that there is an opening on the Sheridan County Fairgrounds Association board of directors and that there will be a tax sale on Aug. 15. Registration for the tax sale begins at 8 a.m., and the sale begins at 9 a.m. in the public meeting room at the county courthouse.

• awarded road improvement projects for County Roads 65 (Barker Road) and 126 (Five Mile Road) to Wagner Ranch Services, of Sheridan, for $316,748. The projects will make the roads safer by widening sections and improving curves and grades, as well as adding gravel, Project Engineer Ken Muller said.

• signed a cooperative agreement with the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the city of Sheridan to include enhancements such as trees, irrigation systems, landscaping, decorative lighting and decorative fences to the project on West Fifth Street. The city will fund and maintain the enhancements, and WYDOT has said they will not delay project delivery.

• appointed Ben Keller to the Sheridan County Planning and Zoning Commission to fill an unexpired term to end June 30, 2017.

Keller grew up in Ranchester and worked as a general contractor in Sheridan County for several years before attending law school at the University of Montana in 2010. He returned to Sheridan last year and began practicing with Kinnaird Law Office in October 2013. He said the planning commission seemed like a good opportunity to put his skills as an attorney and as a builder in the area who did lots of rural construction to use. Keller said he had no expectations for future county planning at this time as he wants to get a good read on issues facing they county first.

Commissioners also appointed Jami Kessner to the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library board.

About

Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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