Douglas County OKs $128.18M tentative budget |

Douglas County OKs $128.18M tentative budget

Kurt Hildebrand

An additional deputy and a public defender were among the two full-time positions commissioners approved funding in the 2019-20 tentative budget.

Sheriff Dan Coverley sought three additional deputies during his presentation earlier this year.

Commissioners completed six days of budget hearings April 10.

Chief Financial Office Terri Willoughby said the budget process so far has taken 28 hours of meetings and 91 presentations.

“I don’t think there was anything frivolous in their requests. We tried to get to a number we can afford knowing there are other demands on the budget.”— Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates

Commissioners approved a $128.18 million tentative budget, including a $50.84 million general fund.

County Manager Patrick Cates said his recommendation against funding the two deputies had to do with reducing ongoing costs. Each deputy is estimated to add $80,000 to the budget.

Cates said he felt the sheriff made an excellent case for the additional staff.

“I don’t think there was anything frivolous in their requests,” he said. “We tried to get to a number we can afford knowing there are other demands on the budget.”

He said commissioners will have an opportunity to review the budget during the fiscal year and could add the deputies back in at some point if the money is available.

Willoughby agreed, saying she felt that there could be salary savings during the year that could make up the difference.

“I believe there is significant salary savings that’s going to occur that will allow us to fund supplemental requests,” she said.

Commissioners Wes Rice and John Engels expressed concern about not having the two additional deputies.

However, Commissioner Dave Nelson said he was satisfied that the county was doing what it needed to do to balance the budget.

“I like the numbers presented,” he said. “I think you’re cutting in the right places. You did an excellent job of putting this together.”

Commission Chairman Barry Penzel agreed.

“I think you tried to make as many people happy as possible with limited funds,” he said.

The county will discuss the budget again on May 2, and Willoughby said they could deal with the final budget on May 16, which is due to the state in June.

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