The Lincoln County commissioners received thanks and congratulations Monday when they approved a slight budget increase in the 2017-18 fiscal year budget.The commissioners agreed to levy $107,000 more from the taxpayers than last year, a budget increase of less than one-tenth of 1 percent.
Accountant Susan Maline, who prepares the county’s budget documents each year, noted that this year is the seventh straight year when the county levy is lower than they year before.
Maline said the county would not spend as much as it could, instead, it will leave about $450,000 in unused budget authority.
North Platte resident Bernice Ziegler, who has taken the role of representing the taxpayers at school board and county commissioner meetings, said she is impressed with how the commissioners do things, including personally looking at each of the county’s bills at the end of every weekly meeting.
“It appears that you stay aware of every expense,” Ziegler said.
Ziegler said county employees seem to be fiscally conservative and do excellent work.
“We really should say thank you to them. I believe they show you guys off,” she quipped.
“If you (the county) were the only one on our tax bill, we’d have lower taxes,” she added.
Ziegler also thanked the board for not setting a time limit for public comments, unlike the school board.
“I can tell you really how I feel, because I’m not limited to five minutes,” she said.
Sutherland village board member Ken Main asked why the new budget for rural ambulances shows a $50,000 increase. Commissioner Joe Hewgley said the amount is a placeholder, before rural departments hold public hearings to set their levy.
Main complimented the county sheriff’s budget, which is based on about the same number of work-hours as previous years. Main also asked how much money the county will give to the Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation.
Hewgley asked Chamber Director Gary Person, who attended the meeting. Person said $30,000.
Eric Seacrest of North Platte was pleased to see the county roads budget has money for equipment replacement – pickups, motor graders and other equipment.
And, Seacrest thanked the board for authorizing an overlay and widening of the narrow Buffalo Bill Road between State Farm Road and Lake Maloney.
“(Afterwards,) it won’t be ideal, but it will be much safer,” Seacrest said.
When the comments ended, the commissioners unanimously adopted the $40 million budget. Of that total, about 32%, or $12.8 million, will come from property taxes.
And, before the commissioners agreed to set the property tax levy at 0.26052, Ziegler said she was “very pleased and happy to ask you to set the levy at a lower rate (than last year).”
In other business Monday, the commissioners went into closed session for about 15 minutes as the board of tax equalization to discuss pending litigations. They took no action.