Gotta Question

Regarding the September 6, 2017 Public Hearing for the final adoption of the budget:

   Q:  1. Why are the expenditures more than the revenues projected for FY 2018?

Answered by Fallon County Clerk and Recorder

A: Expenditures as budgeted exceeding revenues for any given year is not necessarily an indication of an imbalance of spending.  For instance, each year the commission budgets for capital expenditures that may or may not happen for some time and certainly do not all happen during that budget year.  This method allows for the county to build funds to cover large capital expenditures.  The Commission controls and approves those expenditures based on the fiscal health of the budget and community need.

Local government budgets are about balancing revenues with cash carryover to expenditures, some of which may or may not occur during that fiscal year, but certainly may be needed in a foreseeable future.

   Q:  2. Is the cash carry over reserve funds, and is it wise to offset the budget with these funds? 

Answered by Fallon County Clerk and Recorder.

A: Counties are allowed to place a maximum of 1/3 of the total amount appropriated in a given year in reserve.  Fallon County currently has and historically has maintained the maximum amount of reserves allowed.  All other funds must be budgeted annually for operating and capital expenditures.    

   Q:  3. Is it a good spending plan when there is a reduction and elimination of Oil & Gas revenues and the report of “new” revenues is at $41,074,975 to place spending at $75,770,881 and to use a Capital Improvements Plan that has not been adopted or approved by the public for spending?

Answered by Fallon County Clerk and Recorder.

A: Again, you balance the budget by way of cash carry-over, incoming tax and non-tax revenues in relation to the expenditures (appropriations).  Fallon County has never put itself in jeopardy with the budget.

Due to further cuts in expenditures (Appropriations) the actual final budget will be $75,757,195.  Included in this number is a transfer amount of $21,374,937 to other funds.  Transfers are double budgeted, as they are budgeted in the fund you are transferring from and budgeted to be spent in the fund they are transferred to.  The Baker Lake Project is $10,697,850; Hail Damage Property Repairs are $2,250,000 and the Baker Lake Drainage Project is $1,300,000 which would be $40,134,408 for the main operating budget.

The figure listed above of $40,134,408 also includes the Baker Rural Fire $1,579,206 and Plevna Rural Fire-$407,751 and the Port Authority Budgets-$98,137-which then leaves the County’s operating budget-$38,049,314.

In addition no Department ever DEPLETES a budget unless it is a Grant, an Emergency, (such as Tornado/Hail) type budget.  Fallon County spends an average of 55-62% of the latter figure (38,049,314) and that is also dependent upon many factors i.e. budgeted major projects, equipment purchases, etc.

We are using our Capital Improvement Project “Funds” as tools to remind us of upcoming projects, land and equipment purchases.  This in turn coincides with the Capital Improvement Strategy and eventually they will work hand in hand and the Commission will, at that time determine if they want to go through a formal Capital Improvement Plan adoption.  For now, however, the Capital Improvement Strategy is a working document that is a work in progress to simply guide and draw attention to long term county needs for the Commissioners in their budget and decision making process.

Also, as advertised, the public is invited to attend the Budget Hearings, speak and be heard.

Q:  What are Fallon County firemen and EMS paid?

Answered by Fallon County Human Resources.

A: Fallon County does not have a Fire Department and thus fire personnel are not County employees.  The Baker Fire Department, Baker Rural Fire Department and Plevna Rural Fire Department are staffed by volunteers who give their time and skills to keep us safe.

Fallon County Emergency Medical Service personnel include an EMS Director and Emergency Medical Technicians.  Our EMS Director receives $57,720.00 annually.  Current rates of pay for EMT’s were established in November 2014 by the former EMS Board.  Only EMT’s who have been scheduled for events receive compensation.   Additional EMT’s may choose to be present at events but are not receiving compensation.

Compensation for EMT’s and qualified drivers are as follows:

On call:  $2.50 per hour (during transfer times, EMT’s do not continue to receive on-call pay).

$35.00 per EMT/Driver for:

Standby for structure fire

Ambulance calls within city of Baker

Transfers to and from the airport

Standby for local sports activities such as football games

$45.00 per EMT/Driver for:

Any ambulance calls outside city limits

$75.00 per EMT/Driver for:

All County events (such as Fallon County Fair Rodeo, Demolition Derby, High school rodeo and Air Shows)

$100.00 per EMT/Driver for:

Transfers to or from Miles City, Glendive, Ekalaka, Wibaux Montana; Hettinger and Bowman North Dakota

$50.00 per EMT/Driver for:

All non-County events including Motocross, Bump and Run.

$125.00 per EMT/Driver for:

Transfers to or from Sidney, MT or Dickinson, ND

$200.00 per EMT/Driver for:

Transfers to or from Billings, MT, Bismarck, ND, Rapid City, Sturgis and Ft. Meade, South Dakota

$350.00 per EMT/Driver for:

Transfers to or from Ft. Harrison, MT

$15.00 per hour for each EMT/Driver:

During the transfer to other medical facilities during which EMT’s are required to standby to transport the patient back to Fallon Medical Complex in addition to transfer reimbursement.

After the release of a patient to Fallon Medical Complex, if EMS personnel are asked to stay and assist with further patient care in addition to transfer reimbursement.

Fallon County is proud of our Emergency Medical Services personnel!  We are a safer community because of the skill and expertise they provide during times of illness, accident and crisis.  EMS is a service provided by Fallon County for our citizens; this service is not statutorily mandated.   If you are interested in joining EMS, please contact Lisa Mitchell at 406-778-2204.