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Grant County Commission approves preliminary budget

By Mary Alice Murphy

At the beginning of the Grant County Commission special meeting, Commission Chairman Brett Kasten asked for a moment of silence for those lost in the airplane crash last Friday.

During the approval of the special meeting agenda, Acting County Manager Abigail Robinson requested to strike language in the request for approval to purchase jet and AV fuel for the county airport fuel tanks. The language to be struck was "using the emergency portion of the fire excise tax fund." Several volunteer fire department chiefs were in attendance. One of them told the Beat after the meeting that if the language had not been deleted, several were prepared to resign their positions.

The request to proceed with the purchase of the fuel was approved for a cost of between $60,000 and $80,000. Robinson said she thought it would cost around $60,000 to $65,000 for the first purchase to fill the tanks.

The next item of business was a resolution to approve the preliminary budget for fiscal year 2014-15.

Linda Vasquez, financial officer, said a couple of items had been deleted from the budget, including the commissioners' infrastructure fund and a decrease in contractual services. She told the Beat that the two would be revisited for the final budget, if funds were available.

The General Fund budget included a 1.4 percent increase in Public Employees Retirement Association payments.

She projected a slight increase in revenue of $398,475 and a decrease in expenses of about a $120,000.

The Road Fund would see a decrease of about $24,000, for a budget of $988,675,000. The required one-twelfth reserve is $137,265.

The Corrections Fund would see a $14,000 increase in revenue for a budget of $963,143.

Vasquez said $2,555,908 would meet the General Fund required three-twelfths reserve.

Total revenue for the General Fund in the preliminary budget is $10,877,906, with expenses at $9,179,476

'This is all preliminary," Vasquez said. "On June 30, we will get our final numbers and can revisit the budget, before submitting the final budget by the end of July."

Kasten pointed out that the county did not know what the ending balance would be. "The Secure Rural Schools funding has not yet passed Congress, and the federal payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILT) has been approved for only one more year. We need to start taking care of ourselves.

Commissioner Gabriel Ramos said he had been wanting a tight budget and was pleased with this one.

Commissioner Ron Hall said he thought the budget was "one we can live within."

After the short meeting, the commissioners adjourned.

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