On Jan. 2nd, 2018 Slope County representatives met with the Bowman County Commissioners at their monthly meeting in the Bowman Courthouse. A major concern addressed between the counties was the concern of budgeting, financing social services.
By Andy Roehl
In the past, social services for Bowman and Slope County were financially supported by property taxes. To alleviate property taxes, a request was made for the state to assist, funding social services departments, but still consider associates county employees, not employees of the state. In response, the North Dakota Senate recently passed bill 2206 which does supplement social services with state funds, however the finances received from the state would be in the form of only two payments for the duration of 2018 and 2019. The state determined the amount social services would receive based solely on one year of statistics: 2015. Unfortunately for Bowman and Slope County, 2015 was not an average year for case-loads, and does not properly represent the level of manpower/materials necessary to establish an appropriate budget for the current year, let alone 2019 as well.
Due to the circumstances, social services and the county commissioners struggled to find a suitable solution for the budget restraints that will have to be set in place to accommodate both 2018 and 2019 on insufficient funding. The estimated amount needed to appropriately cover two years is $90,000.00.
Everyone participating in the meeting realized and addressed all the concerns regarding the budget, however a solution was not found. The commissioners indicated that working and communicating throughout the year will be a necessary component in finding a resolve.
Bowman Auditor, Sandi Tivis, provided an annual budget report outlining years 2015 to 2017. The information compiled gave an overlook of where adjustments can be made and just how much, in specific dollar amounts, are expended on each individual department within the county. Hopefully, the information provided can assist in determining where potential cuts can be made in order to supplement social services, especially in 2019. Per the report, On Dec. 29th, 2017 an expense of $34,319.00 was made on a Ford Edge to be utilized exclusively for social service employees. This purchase was transacted under the 2017 budget, therefor does not influence the 2018-19 budget.
Bowman County Commissioners intend to convene with Slope County before budgeting time for social services begins and foresees continued collaboration until a resolve is determined.