Waiting time for motor vehicle licenses will decrease and traveling on some county roads will be smoother with the new Natrona County budget set for approval at Tuesday's commission meeting at 5:30 p.m.

The commission will conduct a public hearing and then vote whether to accept the $53.5 million budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year that begins Tuesday, according to its agenda.

The operational budget is 5 percent more than the previous year's budget, Commission Chairman Bill McDowell said Monday.

On the revenue side, assessed property valuation and mineral valuation rose more than expected, although the county treasurer has not submitted  the final report, McDowell said.

The commission held its end-of-the-fiscal-year budgeting housekeeping Monday with a public hearing and a resolution to transfer funds and unanticipated revenues from or to programs such as juvenile services, parks, roads including Rotary Park Drive.

The county recently received $3.4 million from the federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, and half of that will be budgeted and the other half held in reserve, he said.

The federal government sends PILT money to compensate local governments for tax revenue lost through federal ownership of lands in their areas. However, county officials have been wary of receiving PILT money in recent years because of the uncertain results of federal budget debates.
On the appropriations side, the major spending increases will occur with road and bridge development with more than $7 million, plus restricted funds of $981,000 for development plans at the reservoirs, McDowell said.

Motorists will see improvements in Robertson Road, Fremont Canyon, and $1.5 million for chip seal repairs, he said.

More money will be appropriated for engineering to rework some roads, McDowell added. "That's the 20 percent money you spent at the front end."

"We're not building any new roads," he said. "We're just trying to maintain (them), like the state, in a pretty good state."

The commission added two employees to the county payroll in the budget, too, he said. One will work in the title department to handle the higher demand with more vehicles. The other employee will work in the county attorney's office, he said.

"We gave a 2.5 percent wage and salary increase across (the board for) all regular employees, and a 2.5 percent, McDowell said. "We created bonus pool equaling the same 2.5 percent to be distributed by elected officials and by the county commissioners to our directors and senior deputies."

Besides the budget, commissioners will consider contracts, agreements and resolutions about Community Alternatives of Casper, appointing a deputy county attorney for the Child Support Enforcement Department, landowner agreements, and provider agreements between the Natrona County jail and other counties. Commissioners also are scheduled to appoint members to county boards and commissions.