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

$523,135
Grant money for ADA and other improvements at three senior center facilities

$1,152,442
New public restrooms, showers, and food vendor spaces at the fairgrounds

$782,291
Phase 5 of the Solid Waste District’s groundwater protection system at the landfill

$45,324
New county rural subdivision road management program to help form rural maintenance districts

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

540.7
Full-time equivalent employees in 2018

538
Full-time equivalent employees in 2017

1.3%
Cost-of-living adjustment for county personnel

$338,937
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

$2,500
New out-of-pocket maximum per individual via the county’s health insurance plan, up from $1,500

Taxes
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.

161.94
Mills for proposed tax levy in 2018, down from 174.99 last year

$243,169
Value of a county-wide mill in 2018

$224,852
Value of county-wide mill in 2017

$37,337,668
Total property taxes in Flathead County for 2018

$36,494,669
Total property taxes in Flathead County for 2017

$35.24
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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