Lincoln County officials need to trim more than $1.3 million from the first proposed budget that was unveiled Monday.
Certified Public Accountant Susan Maline summarized the prospective fiscal budget for the county commissioners.
Maline compiled the budget from smaller budgets prepared by each county official.
She told the commissioners that the budget for fiscal year is $1.376 million over the allowable increase.
The commissioners typically face an overrun that exceeds what state law allows. Officials then have to make cuts.
Last year, the county board cut $295,000 from the first projections. Back in 2009, the board cut $1 million from start to finish.
Also, North Platte city officials are meeting to work on the city budget. A work-session meeting was held Friday in the council chambers in City Hall and more work sessions were planned Monday and Wednesday.
County board chairman Willis Roethmeyer said officials would like to give employees a 3-percent wage increase, which is in the first budget, but it might be cut, he said.
Last year, employees got a 2 percent increase but departments had to cut that much from their other expenses, Roethemeyer said.
Most of this year’s proposed increase is in the roads department, where nearly $500,000 more is budgeted than last year. Roethemeyer said no big new road projects are planned for that amount. Most of that increase is for wages, insurance and equipment.
The budget also calls for $200,000 more in the employee’s self-insurance fund, which covers relatively minor medical expenses.
Last year, $10.5 million came from county taxpayers. Under this year’s projections, more than $12 million would come from taxpayers.
The county’s annual budget amounts to about $30 million, including grants from the state and federal government.
Roethemeyer said Lincoln County Clerk Rebecca Rossell and Maline would go over the budget line-by-line to make sure everything is in the right category. He hopes some of the increase will be allowed after they finish the review.
“Most county residents expect more services, deserve more services and would probably pay more (taxes),” Roethemeyer said, “but we can’t get there (under the state spending lid.)”
Sometimes, higher expenses are allowed under interlocal agreements and/or a special “growth” allowance, which lets government spend more to serve new business and property developments.
The “growth” factor comes into play if property tax valuations increase 2.5 percent or more in one year. Lincoln County appears to be on the verge of qualifying at 2.3 percent, Roethemeyer said, according to the projections.
During the meeting Monday, Roethemeyer questioned Maline about the valuation increase. She didn’t think the valuation would go high enough to meet the “growth” allowance.