The Flathead County Commission on June 30 unanimously passed a $114.5 million preliminary budget for the 2023 fiscal year, shrinking county spending from last year’s budget of $117.6 million.
The budget took effect on July 1 and will face final approval in August after the Montana Department of Revenue releases the county’s taxable valuation numbers. The county expects a yearly revenue of $118 million, leaving the government with a $3.5 million cash balance if the entire allotted budget is used.
“This assumes we’re going to spend all of our budget in this current fiscal year and then [have] no increase in tax dollars,” Flathead County Finance Department Director Amy Dexter said. “This will increase as we figure out what tax dollars are.”
Included in the budget is a $1.7 million increase in funding for the sheriff’s office, $612,416 for general expenditures, $508,262 for the county road department and $103,528 for the county library system, among other allotments.
The preliminary budget also allots pay raises for various county officials. On June 9, the commissioners approved a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for nine elected officials. The 2.5% salary increase will apply to the Clerk of the District Court, Treasurer/Assessor, Justices of the Peace, Clerk/Recorder/Surveyor, County Commissioners, Sheriff/Coroner, Superintendent of Schools, and County Attorney. The FY2023 COLA increase is separate from the 4% wage increase for all county employees passed by the commissioners in January. The January measure, which included all elected officials and union workers, was enacted in hopes of addressing hiring and employee retention concerns and was separate from yearly changes made in the budget.
Major projects allotted for the upcoming fiscal year include the remodeling of the Justice Center and Courthouse West for $1.1 million and $1.2 million, respectively. Budgetary allocations will also cover parking lot expansions at the Justice Center and Center Island, new patrol and detective vehicles, snowmobiles and passenger bus replacements, among other items.
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