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Commissioners cut more than $200,000 from 2006 budget

Lack of more than $200,000 in revenue made the Haakon County Commissioners take a hard line on their budget during the September 6 meeting.

Haakon County has projected expenses of $1,638,815. Revenue was at $1,454,102. Several times during the meeting Commissioner Mel Smith asked Auditor Shirley Dennis if she was sure she had the correct figures in the budget. Dennis repeatedly re-plied that yes, the figures were correct.

Taking the hardest hit was the county highway department. The department represented by Highway Superintendent Kenny Neville and Secretary Val Williams, presented a revised budget from an earlier presentation. It took the highway department budget down to absolute bare bones, said Williams. The commissioners did not want to cut the highway department budget that far. Neville noted he had to have some monies for crushing gravel each year or the department would be in trouble somewhere in the county next year. Neville had budgeted $80,000 for two used gravel trucks to replace the two aging trucks. That request was removed from the budget.

The commissioners informed Neville they would cut his budget by $185,000 but would leave it up to him and Williams to work out the areas the money would come from. They agreed with Neville that come next summer, if he had extra funds in other areas of his budget, a transfer of funds could be done to possibly cover the cost of the gravel crushing.

Other areas hit by the budget axe were county offices. The treasurer’s office lost a part-time position. The auditor’s assistant position was reduced from full-time to a part-time position. These cuts were made after an executive session that discussed personnel. When the decisions were announced, Denise Coyle asked to have another executive session to voice her concerns with the reduction of her position. There was no action following that session.

Other cuts included the request by Sheriff Larry Hanes for a new sheriff’s car in the amount of $30,000, and support of the poor by half from $21,000 to $10,000.

Items that were left in the budget included $40,000 for 100 signs and posts for county intersections. There are 105 interesections so five sets of signs and posts still have to be added to the figure. Also left in the budget was $50,000 for 9-1-1 services that the commissioners feel they have not been receiving full benefit from.

Dennis was directed to run the figures into the budget to see where the county is at financially. The Haakon County Commissioners will meet September 14 to review the budget. They have until the end of September to submit the budget to the state.