Disparaging remarks sound like a campaign speech

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bonner county budget

Don’t drink county’s

budget Kool-Aid

Recently, the Daily Bee published an article about the current county budget process. In that release, the comment was made that “two years ago, the commissioners were advised by the county auditor that the use of savings to fund ongoing operating expenses was not advisable and not sustainable.” In addition, it was stated “that many of our budget challenges came from actions approved under previous boards of commissioners …”.

First, I would like to address the “savings” account of the county. There isn’t one. Under Idaho State Statute 31-1605A, counties operate on a cash basis. When I was in office I, and my fellow commissioners, balanced income with expenses. As a result, in 2015-16 there was no levy increase. In 2016-17, there was half-percent increase to cover an anticipated overage on the fiber optic project bid. In addition, the county paid down debt by $1.2 million in 2015. When I left office the only debt owed by the county was $1.5 million owed on the county office building. No money was taken from any “savings” account to fund county operations.

As to the advice on “savings” withdrawals by the county auditor, I could find no such comment from our auditor Hayden Ross, county external auditors, nor do I remember any such comment from our own internal auditors. Again, there is no savings account. By state statute the only savings account the commissioners can set up is one to do long term funding for the county jail. Use of those funds is strictly limited to that project and only that project.

An additional comment was made that “Bonner County is now back on the road to fiscal responsibility.” Disparaging former commissioners to make yourself look good makes this “press release” sound like a campaign speech (there is an election next year).

TODD SUDICK

Former Bonner County commissioner

Priest River

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