On October 1, the Bowman County Commission voted to confirm the 2020 county budget after a short budget hearing.
Compared to last year, the 2020 budget has nearly halved, dropping roughly 47 percent from the previous year. The large decrease was due to a much lower funding of the County Road & Bridge budget, which dropped roughly 67.1 percent from the previous year.
County Commissioner Rick Braaten explained that the total budget for 2020 dropped because the County had used a significant amount of saved funds to complete two major road projects in 2019, the Griffin road project and Camp Crook road project.
“Last year we had some money left over from the Surge fund,” said Braaten. “It was money that the state had set aside for funding to fix roads. In 2019 we used that money for two road projects.”
Ultimately, Braaten said the biggest change in the budget related to healthcare insurance costs for county employees.
“We had to raise the general mill levies to offset that increased insurance cost,” said Braaten. “About every two years they raise it anywhere between 13 to 15 percent. It just seems there is no stopping it.”
Other notable changes from the previous year’s budget include a 780 percent increase to the building maintenance budget, a 60 percent increase to the Victim Witness Fee, a 33.4 percent drop to the County Airport budget, a 73 percent increase to the Veteran Service Officer fund, and a 26.6 percent increase to the Rural Ambulance Service. All other budgets were within a 25 percent proximity to the 2019 budget values.
The county commissioner explained the building maintenance budget increased because of a project to replace the courthouse flooring. Braaten said that other year-to year projects explain the fluctuations in other budgets.
“I think that we were pretty conservative on the budget for this year compared to other years,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the insurance, it would have stayed pretty level, and even then it didn’t increase much anyway.”