Take-home pay for county employees dwindling

SHERIDAN — The Board of County Commissioners gave its final stamp of approval to Sheridan County’s fiscal year 2013-2014 budget at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. The budget was cut by 1.3 percent — approximately $200,000 — from last year’s budget.

Expenditures are budgeted at approximately $15.7 million and revenues are projected at about $14 million. Cash on hand is approximately $1.7 million and reserves are $6.88 million.

In order to trim the budget and avoid cutting staff, the county asked employees to kick in a portion of their retirement contributions, which the county has historically covered in full. Employees also had to increase their health insurance contributions, meaning they will receive less take-home pay than last year.

“That’s a trend we can’t stand very much longer,” board Chair Steve Maier said.

Administrative Director Renee Obermueller said that during budget discussions in March, it looked like the county would have to dip into its reserves to balance the budget. However, last minute changes boosted the county into the black.

“At the very last hour, we received notification that our PILT funding was going to be funded fully this year and next year, which was, all in all, about an $800,000 swing — $200,000 this year and another $600,000 next year — so that’s really what prevented us from having to go into reserves,” Obermueller said.

PILT funds — Payment in Lieu of Taxes — are a reimbursement from the federal government on a tax basis for federal lands within a county, Obermueller said. Federal sequestration indicated that the county may receive a 20 percent cut in PILT funds, but that didn’t happen this year. While the federal government has indicated PILT funds will be paid next year, as well, it is always subject to change, Obermueller said.

County Commissioners also approved an amendment to the fiscal year 2013 budget to account for overages in departmental budgets and for grants that aren’t entered into the books until they are officially awarded.

“All of this illustrates the fragility of the budget,” Commissioner Tom Ringley said.

In other business:

• County commissioners appointed two new members to the County Planning and Zoning Commission.

Steve D. Noeker of Story will fill Commissioner Mike Mellgren’s expired position.

Michael Shumacher of Parkman will fill Commissioner Steven Pearce’s unexpired term. Pearce had to resign due to medical issues, County Commissioner Bob Rolston said.

• Commissioners approved Sheridan County Airport’s purchase of new snow removal equipment from M-B Companies at a cost of $675,339, which will be 96 to 97 percent funded with federal grants and state funds. The county will be responsible for 3 to 4 percent of the total cost.

The engineer’s estimate for the equipment was $770,667. Another bid from O.J.Watson Company for $759,165 was rejected.

The new snow removal equipment will be built by M-B Companies and will consist of a carrier unit with a rotary plow head and an 18-foot high-speed sweeper. It will replace the airport’s aging snow blower and sweeper and will be delivered by April 2014, according to a memo from Airport Manager John Stopka.

• Sheridan County Emergency Management entered into an agreement for professional services with Ayres Associates out of Cheyenne to help the emergency management department update its multi-hazard mitigation plan. The update will address planning, resources and risk assessment and will meet state and Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements.

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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