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Commissioners mull 2022 budget

By Sue Sitter - | Jul 24, 2021

Pierce County Commissioners met early the morning of July 19 to pore over proposed budgets for all county departments.

Salary raises took up most of the commissioners’ attention as they discussed developing the county’s 2022 budget. The board did not vote on any budget matters at the three-hour long meeting.

Commissioners listened to budget requests from Mike Graner, administrator at Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center, and Allen McKay, administrator at Lake Region District Health Unit.

In addition to proposals for pay raises, commissioners talked about increasing the portion of employee retirement benefits paid by the county.

The pay increases would bring all 60 Pierce County employees to within at least 97 percent of the county’s recommended pay scales.

The board also compared wages and salaries paid by North Dakota counties of comparable size to law enforcement employees, dispatchers, correctional officers, jail staff and court staff.

Commissioners reviewed their own pay as well.

Also reviewed were budgets for NDSU Pierce County Extension Office, the Pierce County Community Service coordinator, auditor-treasurer, county recorder, clerk of court and court staff, custodial staff, highway department and emergency management staff. Social service budgets for Pierce County’s portion of the Northern Prairie Human Service Region were discussed July 20.

The Pierce County Fair and county parks stood in line along with county offices to receive portions of the county’s general fund.

Sources of revenue for the budget expenses include

Pierce County Auditor-Treasurer Karin Fursather said the county had the option to levy up to 60 mills to pay for budget items from the general fund, however, she said the commission had never boosted the levy that high.

The general fund levy total for 2020 stood at 34.14 mills. Mills levied for all county programs, including Heart of America Correctional Facility and social services totaled 61.62.

Fees budgeted for county 911 service came from taxes on individual cell and landline telephone service. Of the $2.00 phone tax, 50 cents funds North Dakota’s current statewide radio system. Ten percent of the remaining $1.50 goes to the North Dakota Association of Counties for 911 service.

Pierce County has budgeted $300,000 for North Dakota state radio’s SIRN 2020 upgrade.

Pierce County commissioners will vote on a preliminary budget at their next regular meeting, to be held in the county courthouse Aug. 3 at 8 a.m.

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