June 1, 2016

Commission talks budget cutbacks

By Kate Johnson

Mercer County Commission Chairman Bill Tveit suggested there be some budget cutbacks for the 2017 year. Tveit explained his goal by doing this is so salaries won’t be affected – his purpose was to preplan for the 2017 year, creating a proactive stance instead of reactive.
“Knowing the coal severance and coal conversation taxes are dropping considerably because of the usage, and other incomes across the state and state cuts will be affecting our county budget,” says Tveit.  He carried on to explain the type of cuts he would like to see when the 2017 budgets are turned in.
Department heads in the Mercer County Courthouse were asked to cut their budgets by 5 percent. However, the road crew and Sheriff’s department were asked to cut their departments by 10 percent. Tveit’s thinking behind this was courthouse departments are smaller and 85 percent of their annual budgets are salary, thus having less places to cut from.
“I want the department heads to make the decisions, where they can cut. I’d rather have them do that than the board dictate,” says Tveit, who also mentioned he hopes to put a freeze on hiring, which included any recently vacated positions.
Tveit discussed if a department felt they needed to fill the position they would have to come before the commission and present why it was a necessary hire. The commission would make the final decision.
The floor was opened for other members or department heads to participate in the pre-budget discussion. Commissioner Wes Gunsch agreed with the proactive plans and for department heads to look to the future with their budgets.
“I myself am very concerned about the budget season coming up with the legislators meeting this year. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of funds out there and also the economy is decreasing,” says Gunsch.

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