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Haakon County Commissioners meet to cover budget, computers, weed control

The Haakon County commissioners met Tuesday, August 4, to discuss budgets, new computers and weed control.  

The board approved the meeting minutes of last month's meeting. The board also approved the May 5, gross salary and payroll warrants. "For some reason they didn't change on the May payroll and I need to get them changed. They are very close to what they were before," said Patsy Freeman, county auditor. 

All the commissioners except Gary Snook approved Virgil Smith's request for a new computer. Smith called Commissioner Neal Brunskill to make sure that would be okay to spend money that was not budgeted. There is enough money to spend in the budget but Smith wanted to make sure it is okay that he spends the money and that there is enough to cover his costs. Smith wants to buy a new computer that will cost roughly $1,000 or less and he will use it to document weed spraying information. Smith has been using his own personal computer, but it crashed. "With the information he wants to use it for, he does need a computer. If he has the money in his 2009 budget and if it isn't used it will just get put back into the account anyways. I see no problem," said Brunskill. 

Dan Turgeon, wildlife division state trooper, introduced himself as the new area state trapper. He works in Wasta and has been working with the state for 31 years. He is currently in charge of 15,000 square miles from New Underwood to close to Murdo. "I've basically doubled my miles from what I was covering before. Just like everyone else, we had money issues and had to do some expenditure cutting. Hopefully when I am back next year I will have a document which has the details of everything I have done in this county," said Turgeon. 

Steve Clements, Philip, president of South Dakota Sheep Growers Association, was also in to visit to the commissioners about the Animal Damage Control (ADC) program. "Game Fish and Parks (GF&P) came to us in a regional meeting and had a funding shortage. We applied for $80,000, but we will end up getting $519,000. That number isn't done, we need to talk to the congressmen to get that done. Roughly $308,000 was funded by the counties and is matched two to one by the GF&P," said Clements. To help with some of the over expenditures, Western Region I decided to let people go, while other regions tried to solve the problem by reducing the time doing the jobs. "They cut numbers of trappers, which in turn doubled the size of the district. We tried to save as hard as we could to save one more trapper, but what they proposed to do is exactly what happened," said Clements. Clements said that by raising the livestock assessment, enough money could be raised and with the two to one match from GF&P, the problem could be solved. "I think if we increased one to two cents on cattle or sheep it would help. If we raised it to two cents we could raise $10,000 across the state. There were recommendations to raise the two to one match, but I am not in favor of that because you don't know where the money is going," said Clements. 

Gay Tollefson, Haakon County states attorney, had two reports about the TransCanada pipeline and North Dakota still hasn't been paid from the problems they had with TransCanada. Kenny Neville, Haakon County highway superintendent, has talked to Tollefson and they will have to go with the agreements they want to propose to TransCanada. There is currently a weed control pertaining to whom takes care of them after the pipeline goes in and for how long. " I see no sense in approving something now when we may want to change something later. Tollefson said to wait and approve those amendments later. We are just trying to protect ourselves," said Neville. "If the state comes down and puts some teeth in it, we won't have the problems, we wouldn't have that big of a problem with the company if the state comes in and tells them how to do it. If the state doesn't do this, how can we do any better," asked Brunskill. 

Larry Hanes, Haakon County Sherriff, informed the commissioners of the estimates of the new vehicle amount. The vehicles from the state bid include a Tahoe and a Silverado crew cab. Hanes thought after putting all the equipment needed in the vehicle as well as cages, it would cost roughly $40,000, but the commissioners brought that number down to $25,000. The commissioners also looked at the budget for the sheriff's department, but they were going to wait until they had to the right numbers to look deeper into all of the expenses. Every year when an official is elected, the commissioners have to look at a website to see if they can have a raise and so all of Hane's numbers coincided with a four percent increase. The commissioners also questioned if a criminal needs to be transported, does the sheriff transport them. "Sometimes the judge will let them turn themselves in at Winner, but sometimes we need to transport them to Winner. The only time we are required to go back and get them is if they are released, but we have to transport them in an unmarked police car. Winner is the cheapest, but Rapid (City) is closer. If we are going to Winner though, they usually meet us in Presho. If we have people needed to be transported to Sioux Falls, we try to meet the shuttle on the interstate, but often times the shuttle schedule doesn't work with us," said Hanes. 

Annie Brunskill, Haakon County Public Library librarian, was approved to attend the annual librarian conference in Aberdeen on October 7 through 9. Registration cost is $165, which includes meals. 

As of yet, the commissioners do not have the numbers for the total budget for 2010 or the total amount that they want to cut. Last year the commissioners budgeted for five extra meetings, but have since held seven extra meetings.