Eric Seacrest of North Platte thanked the Lincoln County commissioners Monday for keeping the county roads’ equipment in good shape — the only public comment during a hearing on the the budget that increased by more than $1 million in the last few days.

Before Seacrest spoke at the public hearing, accountant Susan Maline told the board that the budget is $1.6 million higher than proposed due to an error she found last week. Maline said the road bonds had to be increased by that amount, to cover the initial partial-year bond payments plus the first full-year payments.

Maline said although the proposed budget did not show the $1.6 million, the final budget that came before the board on Monday does.

Regardless of the substantial increase, the commissioners approved the budget without discussion.

The 2020-21 budget also includes a $1.4 million increase over last year for the addition to the Lincoln County jail. The initial groundwork on the $5 million jail addition is beginning to get underway.

The overall county budget is $54.6 million. Of that, around $35 million will typically be spent, according to traditional spending patterns. County departments typically spend less than budgeted, and the overall budget contains expected grant income and lodging tax money, which does not always materialize.

From property owners, the county will call for $2.3 million more than last year in property taxes, a total of $17.6 million.

General fund expenses will increase by 6.72% — the second straight year of significant increases after many years of minimal increases. A year ago, the general fund budget increased by 12.3%.

In 2020-21, the property tax levy will increase to 34.9 cents per $100 of property, up from 30.6 cents this past year.

 

Testimony

During Seacrest’s testimony, he said for years, the county budget was balanced on the back of the roads department that needed better equipment but didn’t have it.

By last year, the county roads were in bad shape, with some closed, others with drastically lower speed limits and some asphalt roads on the verge of needing total replacement, Seacrest said.

The situation was rectified by a $4 million special road bond, several road construction projects, and buying more equipment.

The bad roads demonstrated the importance if the county roads to the economy, which depend “on farming and ranching and livestock feeding,” Seacrest said. He thanked the commissioners for budgeting enough money to keep the roads in good working condition.

Seacrest also hopes the coming fiscal year will be the year that work begins on a new Sutherland Bridge over the North Platte River. The existing bridge is functionally obsolete and has been listed on the county’s 1-and 6-year road plans since 1986, but funds could not previously be found and dedicated to replacing it.

Commissioner Joe Hewgley agreed with Seacrest that the county roads department has had to use old equipment at times. He moved to adopt the budget and Commissioner Jerry Woodruff seconded the motion, which passed 5-0.

In other business, the commissioners:
  • Denied an appeal of a Homestead Exemption rejection by Ruben Perez because he missed the statutory deadline.
  • Approved an application submitted by Alice Robinson and Anna Bellinger for Wendeborn Administrative Subdivision located at 5998 & 6084 South Range Road on property described as Tract F, Wendeborn’s Acreage Addition.
  • Approved an application by Sheree Swedberg for Swedberg 2nd Administrative Subdivision at 2899 N. Lamont Road.
  • Reappointed Steve Koch and Zak Eickhoff to the Lincoln County Planning Commission for three-year terms.
  • Appointed Brent Roggow to the Lincoln County Planning Commission for a three-year term.