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NC Commission Halfway Through Budget Hearings

The Natrona County Commission has heard nearly half the budget requests from the agencies and offices that record documents, plow roads, inspect buildings, patrol the roads and guard the jails, collect taxes, maintain the parks and run the fair.

Most departments and agencies making their presentations for the 2015 fiscal year beginning July 1 have adhered to flat budget proposals in recent years.

But deferred maintenance and the inevitable wear and tear on equipmenthave taken a toll, Commission Chairman Bill McDowell said Tuesday.

“We’ve got some vehicles that have got to be purchased because they’ve got 150,000 miles on them and they’re about to break down,” he said.

The agencies and departments do not plan to add more employees, nor have they heard a demand for more county services, McDowell said.

Next week, the county will hear from its health insurer, and McDowell anticipates a 9 percent or 10 percent increase amounting to about  $500,000.

The commissioners will consider salary increases, if any, after all the presentations by the end of May, he said.

Revenues affect the budgeting process, too.

The county also is waiting to hear the amount from the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, McDowell said. The federal government sends PILT money to compensate local governments for tax revenue lost through federal ownership of lands in their areas.

The county is expecting $3.2 million from the program, but is budgeting as if it will receive $1.4 million, he said.

Revenue reports from April, and especially May when property taxes are due, will also affect the budgeting, McDowell said.

“The commissioners are, as I am, are hopeful to get this budget wrapped up by the middle of June and adopted by the first day of July and get ‘er done early this year,” McDowell said.

The following departments have made their presentations: Information Technology, Sheriff’s Office, Treasurer, County Clerk, Clerk of District Court, Assessor, Coroner, and Road and Bridge.

At noon Friday, commissioners will hear from Child Support Enforcement, Development, Planning, the Fair, the City of Casper/Natrona County Health Department, and the Library.

At noon, May 16, the commissioners will present their own requests, and property maintenance and the parks department will make presentations.

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