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The Yellowstone County Road Department stands to lose about $75,000 in revenue during the 2004 fiscal year because several recent annexations transferred property - and property taxes - from the county to the city of Billings.

Last year, Billings annexed Briarwood, Cedar Park Subdivision and the Yellowstone Club Estates as well as several smaller parcels.

Property owners in Yellowstone Club Estates have sued the city of Billings, seeking to block annexation. But the county doesn't expect to collect the tax revenue unless the courts overturn the annexation.

Commissioners said Wednesday that they're reluctant to levy additional mills against county taxpayers to make up for the lost revenue within the $4.4 million road budget.

"I have a problem with floating the additional mills even though we could do it," said Commission Chairman Bill Kennedy.

Scott Turner, county finance director, said commissioners have the legal authority to levy additional taxes for the road budget. But he recommended that they trim the road budget instead.

The county's 2004 fiscal year began Tuesday, but commissioners are still making final adjustments to the new budget.

So far, commissioners haven't decided where to cut the budget, although Public Works Director Bill Gibbs offered some possible cuts during Wednesday's meeting. One option would be to buy three sanding trucks instead of the four included in the spending proposal.

Another option would be to delay adding gravel to an eight-mile stretch of CA Road for a savings of $47,600. A third option would be to delay an asphalt overlay on Alexander Road, saving $71,500, Gibbs said.

Commissioner John Ostlund said he and Commissioner Jim Reno agree that paving and road construction should have a high priority in the road department's budget.

"Commissioner Reno said he wanted to make the cuts as far away from road services as possible, and I prefer not to take money out of road projects," Ostlund said. Reno was out of town Wednesday.

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