County budget delayed by state deadlock
At the same meeting, the board passed a resolution permanently setting Sept. 18 as the deadline for its budget public hearing. If the state legislature passes a budget by its June 15 deadline, the board can hold a public hearing before the deadline.
“Given the fact that the state’s only passed a budget on time twice in the last 20 years, I think maybe what we should do, rather than finding ourselves in this bind year after year, is pass the permanent deal,” said District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman.
Legislative leaders were scheduled to resume formal budget negotiations yesterday, Monday, Aug. 20. Top state senators have refused to vote on the proposed $145 billion budget the Assembly passed July 20 until spending cuts offset deficits.
In light of the Oct. 2 deadline for adopting the county budget the board set in 1994, “because sometimes the state is late on their budget, it makes sense that you should also delay the opening of the public hearing,” said County Administrative Officer John Ketelsen.
The board set this year’s hearing for Tuesday, Sept. 11 in hopes the legislature will adopt a budget by that date.
“August 20 is when they’re coming back and there’s no indication they’re going to have anything by Sept. 11 or 18, for that matter,” Chapman said, later adding half the county budget depends on state agency budget.
Even if the state legislature adopts a budget by Sept. 1, Chapman said funding for specific programs may not be spelled out until as late as the middle of October.
“Which is crazy,” said Board Chairman and District 4 Supervisor Brian Dahle. “I thought there was a law that said the state had to have a budget by August something.”
“Yes,” Ketelsen responded with a smile on his face, adding “We’re going to have them arrested. We have the sheriff’s office working on it.”
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