Kootenai County Commissioners Status Update Recap 1/10
Commissioner Leslie Duncan stated after Monday’s swearing in ceremony that the commissioners will be having status update meetings separate from business meetings for the time being until such time that newly sworn in commissioner Bruce Mattare is up to speed on the county business.
Yesterday was Mattare’s first Status Update meeting; it was a very informative meeting and will help the public understand how the county finances work, making budget season easier to follow.
Advisory Board Appointments
There are multiple advisory board positions open on:
Planning & Zoning
As a reminder, here is a list of the commissioner liaisons for each board.
In the past the commissioners ask the board chair and director of the department to give some suggestions based on # of applicants that have come in. The commissioners have also asked for all board members to reapply.
Bruce will be working with the BOCC Communications Coordinator Johnathan to evaluate all the advisory boards, current board members, and applicants to fill existing open positions. As time goes by, the commissioners can determine if they need the entire advisory board to reapply.
One note: the Airport Advisory Board is scheduled to meet today, January 11, to pick chair, vice chair, etc. Bruce, as liaison to this board, thinks they should keep the meeting if they have agenda items to discuss (they do), knowing that there may be an off chance that they may have to pick a new chair/vice chair once the new board members are appointed.
How to handle unbudgeted items and overbudget line items
Brandi Falcon, Finance Director, along with Clerk Jennifer Locke, was on hand to walk Mattare through Policy 930 regarding budgets which is heavily driven by Idaho Code § 31-602.
All budgets are separated into 3 categories:
A Budget – Personnel
B Budget – Operations
C Budget – Capital Expenses (physical, fixed assets that are going to be over $10,000.)
Budgeted funds in A Budget can only be spent on A Budget, budgeted funds for B Budget can only be spent on B Budget, budgeted funds for C Budget can only be spent on C Budget. Can’t use money in one classification to cover expenditures in another classification.
Additionally, if a department overspends their entire budget in a classification the county will stop paying that department’s bills until they get board approval. Any expenditures outside of this policy (either overspending or spending over $10,000) the Auditor’s office requires board approval to move forward.
There are departments that have multiple groups, or org sets, within that department and those groups have their own A, B, and C budgets. As per Policy 930, those different org sets cannot switch funds between them without board approval.
Why does overspending happen?
A Budget – typically happens when there’s a ton of overtime worked.
B Budget – Department spends money on things other than what they said they were going to do or did a poor job forecasting. When that happens, Auditor makes that department come before the board and ask fund balance in order to fund their operations the rest of the year.
C Budget – Happens when there is unexpected outfitting costs, ie. When the department has approval to buy a vehicle, snowmobile, Polaris Ranger, etc and there’s unexpected outfitting costs to get that vehicle county-ready. Also, “there are some people that just don’t care and do whatever they want.”
Most of the issues arise in the B Budget.
For example: a department have been approved to purchase Widget A, Widget B, and Widget C. Department purchases Widget A, but then realizes that they will also need to purchase Widget D. Because it is not in the budget to spend that additional money for the additional widget, the department has to go in front of the board to ask for approval for Widget D.
Sometimes what happens is the department will purchase Widget A, realize they need Widget D, and because they haven’t purchased Widgets B & C yet they use that money to purchase Widget D. But they will still need to purchase Widgets B & C at some point over the year, ultimately spending more money than was originally budgeted, thus having to go in front of the board (either through email or in the business meeting) to ask for approval for that overspending.
There was a great clip from Commissioner Duncan about her thoughts on the commissioners overseeing the department’s finances.
Commissioner Mattare speaking about why it’s important to get GOOD people into these positions. (Most of them are good, there’s just a few outliers that ruin the fun for the rest of them 😊.)
Next Steps for Justice Center Expansion
The ARPA money has been allocated, Bouten Construction company hired and they’re scheduling a pre-kickoff meeting where they’ll hear from Bouten Construction. Bouten will then start working with the architects to get the architect’s cost projection lower. Pre-kickoff meeting will hopefully take place within the month.
The county went through the same process with the jail expansion, and the contractor was able to take the architect’s projection and get the costs down about a million dollars. The commissioners are hoping the same thing will happen with the justice center project.
Commissioner Bill Brooks joined the meeting over the phone, and he was asked if he was still in favor of the justice center expansion as long as it was under $20M. Brooks thinks he said $18M but agrees $20 or less. “I don’t like the way the ARPA money was allocated because we made quite a show of inviting everybody to apply knowing full well that pretty much all the money has already been spent. I think that’s very disingenuous.”
Is there a contingency for the other projects that have been approved.
If there is a surplus at the end of the project, the county has to set a plan on how to use the extra ARPA funds by 2024 and then have to utilize the funds by 2026.
If there is a surplus at the end of all the ARPA-funded projects, is that $$ forfeited or can we use that for different things?
Depends. There is a $10M chunk that can be used for anything. If that money saved falls within that it can go to their fund balance for revenue replacement. But if it turns out that $10M was allocated to some projects that didn’t wall within ARPA guidelines then the county would have to reapply that money to ARPA projects. There are some projects in the original request pile from last year that could be funded if the surplus does not meet the ARPA standards. If there is leftover money, then they will have a discussion about what other project(s) to fund.
End of meeting.