On Wednesday evening, during their regularly scheduled meeting, the Carbon County Commissioners banded together to consider and possibly approve the tentative 2020 budget. County Attorney Bryner began the discussion by stressing that it is mandatory that the commissioners consider and approve a tentative budget by law.
Bryner stated that it is not something that is a discretionary option by a commission. He had been met with concern that the tentative budget was something that was being approved to lead to a final budget quietly. However, by statute, the commissioners are required to adopt and publish a tentative budget for the public ten days prior to the public hearing on the final budget. The budget adopted that evening was the one that would be made available for the public to review and the commissioners to consider prior to the hearing.
“You don’t have an option; you must approve a tentative budget,” Bryner stated.
He continued by expressing that it is not a gimmick or a way to approve the tax raise before the hearings. Commissioner Tony Martines stated that they really worked on the budget as one of the top priorities and asked for a lot of input from county employees. Suggestions and a great deal of planning was put forth. He encouraged those interested to seek facts and not those on social media that believe that they know the facts.
From there, County Clerk/Auditor Seth Marsing discussed key points of the budget, stating that the road department fund increased budget expenditures significantly in an effort to utilize what they had from previous years in the B&C road money. The Special Service District decreased as the county used to receive about 2.5 million and requested about a half million less for 2020 due to receiving much less in mineral royalty revenue.
The mineral lease monies that came directly to the county also decreased. In 2019, the county budgeted for $700,000 and received around $90,000. In an effort to bring the budget closer into line for 2020, the county budgeted for much less.
Commissioner Martines expressed his appreciation for the truth in numbers from the clerk/auditor’s office. It was then requested that Bryner explain the process moving forward. He stated that the next step will be for the budget to be made available at the clerk/auditor’s office and online. The budget will then be available for 13 days before the public hearing. Following that, the hearing for both the 2020 budget and the proposed tax rate increase will take place at the same time on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m.
The commissioners then have the option of approving the budget immediately after the public hearing. However, what usually takes place is that the commission tables the approval, taking the public comments under advisement.
At a later meeting hosted in December, the commissioners may discuss comments and possible changes, make votes on changes and then approve the budget. The budget must be approved by Dec. 31 and the commissioners have the option to set a special hearing or approve at a regular meeting. At that time, they are not required to take further public comment. Bryner also stated that the tax increase may be approved at a lower rate than what was advertised.
The commissioners approved the tentative budget for 2020, which is now available at the clerk/auditor’s office in the Carbon County administration building in Price and may also be viewed by clicking here.