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County commissioners to talk budget at 8 a.m. Aug. 1

— As early as Tuesday morning, Aug. 1, – during the budget discussion scheduled for 8 a.m. at the Idaho County Courthouse – Idaho County commissioners will be proposing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Before the fiscal 2017 budget year ends this Sept. 30, the board will publish a budget proposal that may include one big new tax on those who live under the county road and bridge department, as well as a new set of solid waste fees.

Last week, the board leaned toward taxing more than $650,000 from about half of the property in the county – an amount they say is needed to provide road services such as winter plowing, but also an amount they say would require them to cut back on the same services. This dilemma follows from the loss of the lion’s share of federal forest funds provided under the Secure Rural Schools program.

But that’s not the only major funding issue this cycle.

The commissioners have noted providing a third trial in a mid-1980s murder case could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, though prosecuting attorney Kirk MacGregor has said he believes it may cost less than anticipated.

Two other large cost increases local taxpayers can anticipate stem from perennial issues over solid waste disposal and county employee wages and benefits.

The county’s solid waste contractor, Robert Simmons of Simmons Sanitation, told the Free Press his contract includes a provision for annual cost-of-living increases tied to the Consumer Price Index – a 2.1 percent bump this year compared to CPI increases of 1.1 to 1.6 percent in previous years. During their July 25 meeting, the commissioners talked about how much they would need to raise solid waste fees in order to keep approximately $100,000 in solid waste system costs from adding to the property owners’ tax burden. (Details about the July 25 discussion are here.)

Idaho County employee health insurance costs are up 6.1 percent, county agent Don Solberg told the commission last month, and county employees are also seeking higher wages.


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