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County addresses budget amendments

Along with year-end resolutions, the Stark County Commission tacked on New Year's budget amendments as well. The county commissioners met Friday morning to approve budget amendments, all of which were a result of underestimated dollar amounts in ...

Along with year-end resolutions, the Stark County Commission tacked on New Year's budget amendments as well.

The county commissioners met Friday morning to approve budget amendments, all of which were a result of underestimated dollar amounts in various funds.

The county's general fund ended the year at $275,313 more than the budgeted amount, though the fund isn't in the red.

Stark County Auditor Alice Schulz said the overage is a result of many items, including travel expenses, maintenance department expenditures, transferring funds to the county jail budget and minor miscalculations.

"The general fund is...the dipping fund that everybody goes to, and, you know, we have close to a $2 million general fund budget; that's not too bad," County Commissioner George Nodland said. "In fact, it's pretty good."

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Outside of the general fund, three budgets the county oversees were over by more than $300,000.

The county road budget was over by $517,526, due to non-budgeted work on the county shop totaling $682,189.

"When we budgeted last year, we just totally omitted that; we should have budgeted that item," Nodland said.

Nodland said the county under-spent in other areas, which is why the amount over budget isn't as high as the total cost for that part of the shop.

The social services and county poor budgets were over by $537,240 and $146,393, respectively.

Schulz said she believes the overages to be a matter of entering the wrong amount in the budget. In trying to determine where the overages originate, though, Schulz said she found the overall budget to be in the red.

Schulz said she could not determine how the budget could be negative and could not reach Stark County Social Services Director Larry Bernhardt to ask him.

"Right now he's over in both the social services and county poor; of course, that doesn't reflect any revenue for the month," Schulz said. "(County Commissioner Duane) Wolf assures me that all is well on that end. Our figures might just be wrong here."

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Because the reasoning behind the overall overage could not be determined by the end of the meeting, the commissioners did not amend that budget. Schulz said it should not be a problem to amend it during the county commission's next meeting on Jan. 4.

A message left on Bernhardt's cell phone was not returned by press time.

The county park budget was over by $313,972, which is a result of many smaller projects the county funded. Some of the larger of those projects include $5,000 to the Richardton pool, $144,000 to the Heart River Golf Course for irrigation and $100,000 to Dickinson State University for its new stadium efforts.

The county's grant fund was also higher than budget by $67,749.

"That one is almost impossible to guess," Schulz said. "That's grant money that comes and goes. It's hard to know what we're going to get for grants."

The 9-1-1 equipment, social security and adult education budget were each higher than budget by less than $10,000 because of underestimating the cost to run those areas.

The senior citizens and fair board funds were each about $1,000 over budget because 2006 taxes were paid in the 2007 calendar year.

In the red

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Two of the budgets Stark County oversees ended their year with negative funds.

The county jail fund is in the red by approximately $170,000, though $58,000 of that was from 2006.

"That's not budget; that's overall," Schulz said. "It'd be nice to zero them back."

The county moved funds from the general fund to get the budget back in black.

Nodland wondered if the state Legislature could allow counties to appropriate more mills for jails, especially here where the closure of the mental health part of St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center has resulted in the jail taking on more responsibilities.

The weed control board also ends 2007 with a negative amount of $12,956.

Wolf suggested to get the budget back to zero to move funds from the county road budget.

"I think the weed board and the road fund are two departments that are closely related, and like we said a certain amount of our weed problems are on the county roads," Nodland said.

In other unrelated matters, the county also acted on the following:

E Information technology coordinator Darren Czapiewski approached the city about adding another staff member to his department.

Czapiewski said one IT person is necessary per 50 computers, and he currently services and oversees operations on 100-110 computers, some of which are on different servers.

The commissioners asked Czapiewski to write up a job description, as it seemed a reasonable request. The commissioners said they would likely deficit spend the salary for 2008 and work it into the 2009 information technology budget.

E The county also approved a bid to sell a motor grader to Butler Machinery for $62,768.

County Road Superintendent Al Heiser found it to be more economical to purchase a new motor grader and sell the old one separately rather than trading it in.

By doing so, he saved $22,000 in this year's budget.

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