By ROBERT S. MERRILL
A final budget of $8,907,950 for 2013 has been approved by Franklin County Commissioners. The new budget, which takes effect on Oct. 1, is up $311,603, or just over three percent, compared to the current budget of $8,596,347.
Commission chair Dirk Bowles said this year’s budget was a difficult one to put together.
“The budget we put together is essentially a flat budget. By that I mean it stayed about the same in almost every department,” said Bowles. “There is a three percent property tax increase figured into the budget. We put some of this money, some $100,000, into a new budget line item for a jail capital improvement fund.
“At some point we are going to have to build a new jail in Franklin County. We are currently sending our inmates to Caribou County to be housed in their jail. We average 15 inmates per day and have had as many as 30 there at one time.
“This is a start at funding for a new facility,” he said.
County resident Alan Holt told the commission he is opposed to any tax increase.
“Just because you are allowed to raise property taxes by three percent, it doesn’t mean you have to,” he said. “I know you could find areas to cut the overall budget by three percent.”
Bowles said he appreciates input from the public, but added the commission and Clerk Shauna Geddes have gone over figures and kept things as lean as possible.
“We have no control over fixed costs like county justice, which includes housing of prisoners and health insurance. We realize this impacts us all, including commissioners,” he said.
Last year the county also took a property tax hike of three percent. Under Idaho law, cities, counties, and other taxing entities can increase revenues from property taxes by three percent annually.
Bowles said the county has no control over other major property taxing entities like school districts, cities, the library, fire and cemetery districts.
“There are 36 different taxing districts in the county that receive property tax monies collected by Franklin County. All set their own budgets. We want residents to become educated that tax monies collected by Franklin County are distributed to all taxing districts. The county only receives its proportionate share. We just act as a collection agency and then distribute funding to these other taxing districts, so they can operate under their own budgets that they set,” he said.
Probably the biggest single increase in this year’s budget, compared to 2012 is in current expense. Monies, some $164,950, were moved into this category to more accurately track where money is spent, said Bowles. He said some of the items included in current expense are building operations, civil defense, elections, search and rescue and planning and zoning.
Several other budget categories increased or decreased. They include:
• Jail capital improvement fund, new category, $100,000.
• County justice, housing prisoners, up $122,696, or six percent.
• Fair building, up $63,000 because of an insurance settlement.
• Road and bridge, up $9,000.
• Health insurance, up $144,274. Bowles said the increase is due to claims and an increased cost passed along by the plan administrator. The county is self-insured and is fully funded, he said.
• Extension programs, decreased by $2,450.
• Fair operation, decreased by $4,600.
• Weed control, went down $59,596. Bowles explained the decrease is because of less grant funding this year compared to last.
• Commissioners, decreased $33,809. The commission chair said this decrease was for bookkeeping purposes to more accurately reflect where monies are being spent.
• We appreciate all our elected officials and department heads for working with Shauna and Commissioner Richard Westerberg on this year’s budget. Everyone pulled together to make things work, said Bowles.
This story is sponsored by Franklin County Medical Center Doctors.
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