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County budget sees increases


The Cheyenne County Commissioners approved the proposed budget for 2013-2014, and some of the line items took a significant jump.

Big changes occurred in the communications center and wireless 911 services, shoot from $390,354 to $560,390 and $4,644 to $128,370, respectively.

“I think they were just inflationary costs. I don’t know that there was one particular thing that made this huge jump,” Cheyenne County Clerk, Beth Fiegenschuh said.

The rules governing allocation of funds are strict, with money directed toward specific projects or categories. This routinely causes noticeable fluctuation in line item amounts from year to year.

“The wireless money comes from the public service commission. We didn’t spend that much, and you can only spend as much as the money you have in there,” Fiegenschuh explained. “The balance we had, you can only spend it for certain things and we haven’t needed those. So the balance, the revenue is $128,370.”

The county's budget process involves balancing income and expenditures. But it also must concern itself with non-levied and levied amounts.

“Because we have that much money in there we say we spend that much money, but we actually don’t,” Fiegenschuh said. “The revenues just have to match.”

The wireless amount is drawn from the surcharge on telephones and is accumulated. If the county budgeted $5,000, that set amount would then prohibit any necessary larger purchase allowed by the service commission. It is considered a non-levied amount.

Sidney pays two-thirds of the communications center budget while Cheyenne County is responsible for the remaining third. The city is leasing radio equipment that is included in their annual figure. The increase is largely due to estimates of expenditures, fees and other expenses.

Political subdivisions receive a percentage of tax dollars from real estate taxes, which are levied funds.

The levied funds in the county commissioners budget are made up of commissioners, clerk, treasurer, assessor, election, clerk of the district court, county court, building and grounds, extension, sheriff county attorney, jail, weed, relief, veterans, institutions, roads and fair.

“The inheritance tax—we have, I don’t know how many murder trials there are, but that’s where the money comes from to pay for those,” she said. “All those things are, I hate to say normal, but they are normal expenditures that we have to pay, like for the jail prisoners—their food, their board, their health, their medical. The murder and major prosecution cases are money outside that we have not budgeted for. We’re not collecting money for those, so that’s what the inheritance tax is used for—for those expenses that we can’t budget for.”

The county keeps some money aside for emergency relief.

“Institutions are when people are a danger to themselves or others and they EPC (Emergency Protective Custody) them. They transport them to the hospitals so they can be watched. We pay for those,” Fiegenschuh said.

The general fund is also up from $6,301,589 last year to $8,040,170, while the library’s budget is down from $99,067 to $60,000.

“The county general, what we operate on, but not all of those funds that we’re responsible for and that we pay out are tax dollars,” Fiegenschuh said.

As for the library’s budget, “That’s kind of really misleading. It used to be a levied fund outside of the list. It is now included within our miscellaneous general, so it’s not a separate fund,” she pointed out.

The library was added to the county general line after years during which the budget had been based around 100 percent of the people paying 100 percent of their taxes, with the county making up the difference form the inheritance fund when they didn't.

The process can be very confusing, even to the Cheyenne County Clerk.

“It’s not your basic accounting. But, like I said, all of this is proposed. I’ve been here almost 20 years and it’s still amazing. So far, it’s worked and our bottom line hasn’t been negative, so we’re kind of thrilled about that.” Figenschuh said.


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