Commissioners consider filling positions vacant since 2007
By Jamie Henneman/The Independent Staff
The Stevens County Commissioners are feeling somewhat optimistic about the 2017 budget and are considering filling some vacant positions in various departments, according to Commissioner Wes McCart.
The county’s preliminary budget that was drafted in September shows a reduction in the shortfall between predicted revenue and expense requests in 2017. The total county budget which includes both services in the county courthouse and additional services like public works, the county counseling services and capital projects has a current projected shortage of $922,695, a decrease from the $2.6 million it was short in 2016. County courthouse departments have an anticipated shortfall of $469,698 for 2017. The total shortfall can be covered by the county’s savings account of $3.2 million and the September shortfall estimates are likely to undergo several changes before the final budget is approved, said Commissioner McCart.
“The coming year’s financial projections are looking better than normal, but we will still have some tough decisions to make. A lot of work gets done between the September estimates and the passage of the budget, so some of the estimates are going to change,” McCart said.
The optimism about the 2017 finances means the commissioners feel comfortable considering filling vacant positions in the county jail, auditor and assessor’s office, although it’s not likely all of them will be filled.
“We are still below our 2017 staffing levels and the county is in a hiring freeze, but we are considering filling some positions that were left vacant by retirement or medical leave,” said McCart.
Considering if the positions should be filled is a balance of determining the severity of the need and making sure the position can be funded into the future, not just for the coming year.
“We will be looking at need in terms of a department that is really lacking in customer service or needs to fill a position due to a public safety or employee safety need,” said McCart.
The next hearing on the 2017 county budget will be held on Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. The hearing is open to the public and public input is welcome, said McCart.
“Getting public feedback is helpful so we can prioritize a budget,” he said.