County to hold special budget meeting

FAIRMONT– The Martin County Board of Commissioners briefly looked at the proposed 2024 budget and levy during its meeting on Tuesday.

County Coordinator Scott Higgins said in putting it together, they looked at what the 2022-23 budget would be with current 2024 salaries and benefits and how it would compare to the proposed levy at this point.

“Beyond the salaries, some of these budgets are maybe a little higher than usual with over-budgeting and use of fund balances,” Higgins said.

As it stands the county is looking at a slightly higher levy increase of 6.97 percent but Higgins noted that once it’s set it can be lowered but not raised.

Higgins also said that the board can hold a special meeting to further discuss the preliminary budget before it needs to be adopted at the end of the month.

Commissioner Richard Koons acknowledged that in recent years, with the addition of special funds that came in as a response to Covid, various budgets were stretched and resulted in healthy reserves.

However, commissioner Jaime Bleess voiced frustration with setting the levy that high.

“When we look at the past year’s budgets and how they’ve been coming in under budget by percentages that are significant enough to keep putting money away, and every year they come under budget, but generally speaking they’re asking for three to five percent more but they didn’t spend what they asked for last time,” Bleess said, referring to budget requests from different departments.

He said that he’d like to “put the brakes on” levying for more when not everything that was budgeted for the year before was spent.

“I think it’s really important for us as we move forward responsibly toward possibly having to build a jail, which will affect our levy, that we do what we can in the short term to keep it (the levy) as low as we can,” Bleess said.

Ultimately, the board set a special meeting for 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 29 to further discuss the budget and levy with the goal of lowering the levy.

“It won’t be anymore than 6.97 percent,” Koons said.

Moving to other matters, the board heard from Bob Mickelson of ISG regarding two bids received for installation of a snow rail system for the courthouse roof. Both bids include an Alpine two rail system. The first bid from Renaissance Roofing, which has done the work on the courthouse’s dome, was $62,500. The other bid from Patten Roofing was $43,900.

The board also considered three bids for an ice melting system for the courthouse roof. The bids were from BLK Electric, Renaissance Roofing and DeWar Electric. The options also included a two circuit, four circuit or eight circuit system.

Speaking of the snow rails, Belgard said, “I’d like to use Renaissance Roofing because they’ve done everything else, but I have to justify almost $20,000.”

Commissioner Kathy Smith said she believed they should go with Renaissance Roofing because the company did so much work on the roof and knows how to work with copper.

“I think we can justify the $20,000 by saying we’re protecting our roof,” she said.

Koons agreed, adding that they’re protecting what they’ve already spent by using the company that already did the roof work and not going with a third party.

Belgard made a motion to accept the bid, not to exceed $62,500, from Renaissance Roofing for the snow rail system. The motion passed.

Koons made a motion to go with option 2B for the ice melt system, which is an eight circuit, 200 amp, 12 watt self-regulating system with installation done by BLK electric for a total cost of $66,485. The motion passed.

In other news, the board:

— Recognized Rebecca Bentele, Victim Witness Coordinator, in her retirement for 25 years of service.

— Approved the hire/promotion of John Hayes to Victim Witness Coordinator.

— Authorized funding in the amount of $9,050 to aid in assessment completion on how best to utilize the Opiod Settlement funds for Martin County.

— Approved the hire of Sarah Odegaard as a full-time administrative assistant in the Planning and Zoning Office.

— Approved the Martin County Veterans Memorial Site as a Toys for Tots collection site on Sept. 30 and Nov. 11.

— Changed the first meeting for the month of December to be held on Thursday, Dec. 7 beginning at 4 p.m. and the Truth in Taxation hearing to be held at 6 p.m.

— Scheduled a work session to discuss the Lakeside Cemetery transfer on 8 a.m. on Oct. 11.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today