County Commissioners approve $94 million budget

Originally published in the 9/8/17 print edition.  This is an early release of the story.

BILLINGS — Pointing out that Yellowstone County’s 2017-18 budget is only “sustainable” if the proposed Safety Mill Levy passes, County Commissioner Denis Pitman refused to second a motion to pass it. But, then he said he would vote for it, but he wants the public to understand that it may be necessary to develop a more austere budget if “things don’t turn out.”

County Commissioners went forward then, on Tuesday, to unanimously approve the county’s over $94 million budget for the coming year, following two public hearings, this week and last. The budget is a 6.3 percent increase over FY 2017’s budget.

Pitman warned that without the passing of the proposed Safety Mill Levy, they will reach a point between two and five years from now “where we are out of money.” The current budget, said Pitman, places the county in a “reactive” position, and he would rather that they be “pro-active.” He said he would be dedicating himself to getting the Safety Mill Levy passed.

Because of the tight budget, during last week’s hearing, Pitman proposed an amendment which would have set a new county policy to cease contributing funds to private non-profit organizations. And, also because, said Pitman, he has never been comfortable with donating taxpayer money to private organizations. His motion failed for the lack of a second. … Read more of the story here.

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