County Budget to Decrease About $2 Million in Spending

County property taxes expected to decrease by $35 for homes worth $200,000 if taxable value doesn't change

By Molly Priddy
The historic Flathead County Courthouse building on Main Street in downtown Kalispell. Beacon File Photo

Flathead County expects to spend nearly $2 million less in the next fiscal year compared to last year’s budget, coming in at about $90 million for 2018.

According to County Administrator Mike Pence, total spending for Flathead County in 2018 is expected to be $90.3 million, a $2 million drop from 2017’s approved budget of $92 million and 2016’s budget of $105 million.

The county expects to bring in $89 million in total tax and non-tax revenue, with a beginning balance in the coffers sitting at $53.5 million. This leaves the county with a projected ending balance of $52.3 million.

The Flathead County Commission is expected to approve the budget during an Aug. 30 hearing.

Here’s a breakdown of the main aspects of the budget:

Capital Improvement Projects
A major piece of the budget in recent years, these projects are expected to cost a more than $8 million in the 2018 budget, compared to more than $10.4 million last year.

These projects will include:

• $1,283,561 for Culture and Recreation
• $1,113,849 for General Governement
• $87,000 for Public Health
• $705,180 for Public Safety
• $2,986,639 for Public Works
• $329,798 for Social and Economic Services
• $1,506,900 for Solid Waste

CIP funding also accounts for nearly $4.7 million in transfers to savings for future projects, such as a new jail for the county. Last year, the commission voted to squirrel away $7,424,258.

The new jail has $6.3 million earmarked already, with another $1 million transfer from the federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes program.

Various Projects of Note

Grant money for ADA and other improvements at three senior center facilities

New public restrooms, showers, and food vendor spaces at the fairgrounds

Phase 5 of the Solid Waste District’s groundwater protection system at the landfill

New county rural subdivision road management program to help form rural maintenance districts

Paying county employees and their benefits is a major expense for Flathead County. The new budget adds employees and notes increased health benefit expenses.

Full-time equivalent employees in 2018

Full-time equivalent employees in 2017

Cost-of-living adjustment for county personnel

Total cost of cost-of-living adjustment

$1 million
Paid out of the county’s trust fund for claims in the county’s partially self-funded medical benefit program

New out-of-pocket maximum per individual via the county’s health insurance plan, up from $1,500

The total taxable value for Flathead County increase from $224.9 million to $243.16 million, according to new valuation numbers from the state Department of Revenue.

Mills for proposed tax levy in 2018, down from 174.99 last year

Value of a county-wide mill in 2018

Value of county-wide mill in 2017

Total property taxes in Flathead County for 2018

Total property taxes in Flathead County for 2017

Decrease in county taxes for a property with market value of $200,000, assuming the taxable value doesn’t change from the prior year.

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