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County begins budget process

Stutsman County departments were asked to prepare 2020 budgets at or below the level of the 2019 budget. Nicole Meland, county auditor and chief operating officer, told the County Commission Tuesday the taxable value of the county was up 5.15% fo...

Stutsman County departments were asked to prepare 2020 budgets at or below the level of the 2019 budget.

Nicole Meland, county auditor and chief operating officer, told the County Commission Tuesday the taxable value of the county was up 5.15% for the upcoming tax year but only 0.8% was from new construction.

The directive to county department heads did not include instructions for any salary increases for employees. A salary survey is being conducted and wages for employees would be addressed through that rather than a step or cost-of-living adjustment.

Meland's report said the consumer price index for the Midwest showed an increase in the cost of living of 1.8% between March 2018 and March 2019.

The commission requested any outside agency that receives funds from the county limit increases to 2% when compared to the 2019 request.

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Meland said outside agencies had not been allowed budget increases in the 2018 or 2019 budgets.

"This is conservative and in line with CPI Midwest index," she said.

Budgets must receive preliminary approval by Aug. 10 and final budgets by Oct. 10. Final budgets cannot exceed the amount of the preliminary budget.

The Stutsman County Park Board took no action on a memorandum of agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the conveyance of land around Jamestown Reservoir from the Bureau to Stutsman County.

The memorandum of agreement included a $34,000 payment to the Bureau to cover the administrative costs of transferring the land to Stutsman County. The portion of those costs attributed to the sale of cabin lots at the reservoir would be repaid to the county. The memorandum of agreement did not define how much would be repaid and how much would remain the county's cost.

Mark Klose, chairman of the County Park Board, asked where the funds would come from for the administrative costs and how the Park Board could recover the estimated $140,000 it will lose in lease revenue each year if all the cabin lots were sold rather than the cabin owners that currently lease the lots from Stutsman County.

"Too many unanswered questions," Klose said, when closing the discussion of the topic.

The Park Board also approved a plan developed by Bill Steinmetz for a mountain bike and hiking trail on the island at the reservoir.

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Steinmetz said the trail was developed to share the space with the frisbee golf course on the island and still allow for 2.5 to 3 miles of trail.

Related Topics: STUTSMAN COUNTY
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