Douglas County Commissioners prioritize potential budget surplus funds |

Douglas County Commissioners prioritize potential budget surplus funds

by Amy Alonzo

if you go:

What: Douglas County Board of Commissioners public hearings

When: 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday

Where: 1616 8th St., Minden

County commissioners will spend the coming week working on the Fiscal Year 2017-18 budget, but on Tuesday they spent the evening prioritizing any extra money that may be unearthed during the process.

Douglas County Manager Larry Werner provided commissioners with a list of 23 items — in no particular order — chosen by county department heads as needs. The items ranged from $1.23 million for countywide cost of living and merit increases to $6,300 for six desktop computers.

“The thought process behind this was that in preparing the tentative budget one of the things that always becomes an issue is if you have excessive revenue, where does it go?” Werner asked. “How do you deal with that? Who gets it?”

He encouraged commissioners not to think about the price tag associated with each program while prioritizing. Commissioners planned for a surplus of up to $2 million.

All five commissioners chose — in no particular order — the hiring of a deputy county manager ($176,000), a stormwater program (for water quality monitoring and facility maintenance, $67,000) and cost of living and merit increases ($1.23 million) as their top three priorities.

Chairman Barry Penzel prioritized “under protest.”

“This is not a good system. I am not satisfied with this. We are taking arbitrary numbers and putting them up there,” he said. “What about the museum roof? It’s about to fall in.”

He said the stormwater and pay increases were obvious choices, but after that “Where do you go? Why do you pick something? What’s the criteria? I think that sounds good? … What is your data point here?”

Other items cited as priorities by commissioners included hiring of an evidence technician for the sheriff’s office ($79,000), increasing a Department of Alternative Sentencing officer to full-time ($49,000) and implementing Microsoft Office 365 computer software ($150,000).

Commissioners will continue to discuss budget matters this coming week at four public hearings set for 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday.