Commissioners pass budget - Coeur d'Alene Press: Political

Commissioners pass budget

Tondee, Nelson vote in favor, Green against

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Kootenai County commissioners passed their $74.7 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year after a hearing on the subject Wednesday night.

While the budgetwas approved by Commissioners Todd Tondee and Jai Nelson, Commissioner Dan Green voted against the budget because he could not support two issues.

First, he said, the County has assumed more risk with its self-insured healthcare plan, but the savings that were derived in doing so will not be banked.

Instead, he said, the savings from that have been spent.

"We've increased our stop loss by $100,000, and we should set the savings aside to cover that," he said.

And, Green said he would like to see the county begin chipping away at its operating budget by cutting 1 percent - or roughly $230,000 - out of it.

"A $230,000 reduction would show that we are serious about this," Green told the other commissioners. "I'd like to raise the bar."

While Nelson and Tondee both agreed that the operating budget could be reduced, they favored taking a hard look at it over this next fiscal year and propose specific cuts in the next budget cycle.

"I don't like the shotgun approach," Tondee said. "I would favor directing staff to analyze the budget to see where we can save some dollars."

Nelson agreed with Tondee. She said county staff has worked hard to trim extra cost over the past year, and Green's proposal felt more like the commissioners were punishing staff for holding the line.

"I'd rather be more methodical about this and go through a process," she said.

Tondee and Nelson didn't agree with Green's approach on the health insurance either.

"We have a fund balance to cover the cost of the risk," Tondee said. "When we look at where our workforce is, we should be giving some of that back to employees."

Nelson said she agreed with Tondee's approach.

Only two people spoke during the public comment period. Bob Bingham, of Athol, compared the county's budget with the budgets in Ada County and Canyon County.

He said that, while the comparison was difficult, it appeared that Kootenai County was spending millions more on a per-citizen basis than those two counties.

Tondee said that there is a lot more to comparing county budgets than simply comparing the bottom lines. Every county in the state is a little bit different and has different challenges.

"Not to be disrespectful, but I don't favor going through that process," he said. "I would rather spend the time looking at our services."

Bill Matson, a custom home builder from Worley, questioned why the county was proposing to eliminate the 5-acre lots around the lake, which in turn would limit the county's revenue potential into the future.

He pointed to one project on the lake that stretches along a mile of shoreline. He said currently the land owner could split that property into 105 parcels, but after the county changes its land use codes that property could only be split into five parcels - that very few people could afford.

"If the new land use process goes on like it is, it will put me out of business," he said, adding he cannot understand why the county would limit development while it was trying generate more income.

Green said the county is not simply trying to generate more revenue. It was also trying to control spending.

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  • greyhound2 posted at 12:24 pm on Sun, Sep 1, 2013.

    greyhound2 Posts: 897

    "much smarter than I" is not correct. With the same amount of brain cells, your brain cells are not "colored" by special interests. For example, the answer to over-crowded jails is not to review sentanceing guidelines but to build more jails. Also, comparing one monopoly against another monopoly just gets you another even more expensive monopoly.

  • I Carry posted at 10:38 pm on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    I Carry Posts: 559

    I think MR. Green could "raise the bar" by not taking any salary from the county. I mean, if you are going to make an impression, then hop to it.

  • bob-athol posted at 2:53 pm on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    bob-athol Posts: 192

    A few items about the KC budget the BOCC just adopted .....

    I gave 3 stars to the Corner, Assessor, and Treasurer for holding their budgets over the last 3 yrs to less than 1% increase p/yr over the last 3 yrs. GREAT JOB! The Corner actually cut her budget in that 3 yrs, (-10%) for a 5 star rating. SUPERB!!!

    I rated the Prosecuting atty and the Sheriff "flat" for a 10% increase over 3yrs. Might be justified, but the KC budget lacked the detail to make that determination.

    The Commissioners get a failing grade for budget increases of 30% (10% p/yr) over that same 3 yr period. And these are fiscal conservatives??? I found it interesting that they were critical of the "other elected officials" yet the greatest spending increases occurs with what is under their control.

    I identified 7 areas where a closer look (significant increases in tax $ being spent) should be taken.

    When you consider the population and the budgets of Kootenai County, Ada, and Canyon counties, (counties near our population) and calculate the tax per/person, KC is spending $2.5 to $20.6 million more dollars than they are on a per/person basis. Todd and Jai stated they did not think comparing our budgets to other counties was worth the effort and we should focus just on our line by line costs ..... of course they forgot they had just spent money asking a consultant to compare our county salaries with other areas ..... LOL .... someone said "here's your sign."

    All 3 commissioners are smart people, much smarted than I, which leads me to ask what or who is really steering these kinds of decisions?

  • Tim Herzog posted at 9:01 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Tim Herzog Posts: 414

    Wolfeyes...Read my first sentence again! I said he WAS NOT up for election in 2014!

  • Wolfeyes posted at 8:45 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Wolfeyes Posts: 89

    Tim get your facts straight. Green is not up in 2014. He won the last election and is in for 4 years. It is Tondee and Nelson running next year. Of the 3, Green is the only one with the experience to understand the budget. The comp plan time frame was not Greens doing. Just go back and listen to the tapes and scheduling of 100's of meetings. There were circumstances that delayed the writing. Then the commissioners at the time took over one year to go through the plan, line by line. As far as the zoning ordinances are concerned, all three chose KK. No one is less culpable than the other. By the way, the facility study was Nelsons baby. The redecorating was also Nelsons baby. Rumor has it there will be some more redecorating in the future. I guess once a decorator, always one. Tondee is at least consistent. You may not like what he has to say all the time, but what you see is what you get. Green is the same. Nelson, well I leave that to each persons imagination since she is sees herself above everyone, especially since she thinks we are all stupid and need education. As far as the budget goes, there will always be issues. It all comes down do we trust our elected officials to do the right thing. If not,, then we can vote them out.

  • Tim Herzog posted at 6:56 am on Thu, Aug 29, 2013.

    Tim Herzog Posts: 414

    I find it amazing that Dan Green is trying to come off as a fiscal conservative, especially since his seat is not up for election in 2014. Dan spent 6 years as leader of the Comp Plan which after 5 or 6 drafts was passed with many flaws and over 2 years so far trying to get this unbelievable ridiculous and probably unworkable ULUC passed. Now he is throwing another 100K or so at this unfinished project that has already cost us about 400K or so!

    Let's not forget about the proposed future expansion of the county building, sky walks and parking garage for many millions and just a few months back, a $46,000 remodel job to the Commissioners office! Is this about trying to save money now or trying to save face?

    Tim Herzog
    "Striving for Common Sense in 2014"

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