Bowman County Commissioners cut the budget for 2021 to meet the expected shortfall in revenues from the state and other fees at its meeting Oct. 6 in the county building.
The $8.3 million budget for 2020 was pared down to $6.71 million at the meeting, with the approval of all five commissioners.
According to the estimates for the new budget, the county will be raising approximately $1.42 in revenues from taxes and an additional $5.28 million in non-tax revenues such as fees.
Funding for the 9-1-1 programs increased from $117,455 in the 2020 budget to a new total of $128,845.
The county airport got a slight increase in funding from $109,950 in 2020 to $111,000 in the new budget.
The Bowman/Slope Soil Conservation funding increased from $75,090 to $86,985 in the new budget.
According to Commissioner Lynn Brackel, the budget shows the impact when the second quarter was down 22 percent in sales tax revenue from the state.
“Another item that was down was the highway distribution tax. That was down 30 percent,” he said. “Also, the value of the mill dropped $1,000 from the previous year, so we had to deal with that. There is going to be less income coming in from the tax dollars.
“We were very, very careful not to cut employees’ wages or laying anybody off. We didn’t even consider it for the employees for this year,” Brackel explained.
The commissioner also thanked the county employees for helping get the county through the year. “There is always next year,” he added.
One thing that has help with the budget costs has been the drop in travel costs, Brackel said. “Nobody is going to meetings in Bismarck.”
The fact that no road projects are planned for the next year also helped out the budget, Brackel said. “That was one of the things that we could take out.”
However, he said the commissioners did not cut the maintenance budget for the county roads. “We have to continue to maintain the roads that we have or else we didn’t do our job on this end.
“For the most part, our roads are really, really good, compared to other counties,” Brackel said, noting that on some roads in other countries there isn’t enough room to pass farm vehicles. There will be some chip sealing done on county roads as part of maintenance, “ Brackel added.
In addition, oil money still helped the commissioners fill in the gaps in the new budget. “Oil and gas money were funding like 30 to 35 percent into the general budget. I am thankful for the commissioners in the past that they held it down to that amount and put it all into the general budget. This year, we ended up inserting 90 percent of the oil and gas money into the general fund.
“That did not equal the 30 percent from previous years. That is how low the oil income was.... or the projected oil income is,” Brackel said. “That made a lot of difference.”
“So far, we have been able to pay our bills and we have got money in the bank too,” he explained.