On September 20, the Adams County Commission voted to confirm the 2020 county budget. The total amount levied in 2020 county budget remained relatively consistent, dropping roughly three percent from the previous year.
Although the total budget remained consistent, there were notable changes in the distribution of funds compared to 2019’s county budget. Compared to last year, the 2020 general fund increased by roughly twelve percent. Adams County Chairman Dustin Laufer explained that the increase in the general budget was likely due to an increase in labor costs and healthcare.
“All county employees got a three percent increase,” said Laufer. “We did a special five percent increase for the sheriff’s deputies because after doing some research, we were a little low compared to other neighboring counties.”
Laufer continued, “One of the biggest expenses is our health insurance. It was scheduled to go up twenty-six percent. Instead, we changed the policy to a high deductable policy and saved taxpayers money. After switching to the high deductable plan, it only increased seventeen percent. We really wanted to keep the same policy and consistency for our employees, but with financial constraint and budget in mind, we had to change policies…”
Other notable changes from the previous year’s budget included a 41.7 percent drop in the Farm to Market budget, a 38.6 percent increase in the Veterans Service budget, a 53.1 percent drop in the Extension Budget, a 768.4 percent increase in the Weed Control budget, and a 37.2 decrease in the Water Resource District budget. All budgets changes are rounded to the nearest tenth.
Laufer explained that the large increase in the Weed Control Budget was a result of producers using more chemicals and sprays to control noxious weeds and an under budgeting of the Weed Control budget from the previous year.
“We reimburse producers for controlling noxious weeds, so the fact that [the weed budget] went up is probably a good thing,” he said. “What we saw with last years budget is that the amount of spraying and chemicals used went up considerably, so we did increase the budget to match the trend.”
Laufer attributed other large swings in the budget to large infrastructure projects and changes in employment. Projects like the courthouse parking lot renovation, which is slated to be completed and opened by Monday, and the Overhead Road north of Lemmon, South Dakota can significantly change the budget year to year.
“Our big project for 2019 was our ADA courthouse parking lot,” said Laufer. “That was a necessity to keep the courthouse up to ADA standards. Starting in 2020, we will start work on the Overhead Road and that will be our next upcoming big project.”
Overall, Laufer said the commission “tightened up the budget where they could.” Laufer said that it was important to the commission to lower costs for taxpayers wherever possible.
“The main goal of everybody is to have a successfully functioning County for the year while keeping the taxes from a major increase, if we can help it,” he said.