Yellowstone County department heads will be expected to toe the line on expenses when they submit their proposed budgets for the 2003-04 fiscal year during public budget hearings scheduled today through Wednesday.
County departments were asked to submit preliminary budgets which didn't exceed last year's budgets. In a message to commissioners, County Finance Director Scott Turner said county departments have complied with the request. Only departments that have been able to raise non-tax revenues will be allowed to increase their budgets substantially, he said.
Bill Kennedy, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said the proposed budget for the 2003-04 fiscal year won't look much different from the $53.1 million budget for 2003.
"All in all Yellowstone County will have a balanced budget. There will be minimal requests for new staff," Kennedy said Thursday.
According to Turner's memo, the countywide tax levy will increase from $17.8 million during the 2003 fiscal year to $19.4 million. Most of the increase in property taxes will result from a voter-approved 4.75-mill levy for public health services.
Turner said departments that are requesting significant budget increases include MetraPark, the sheriff's detention budget, the elections department, the public defender's office and information technology.
Commissioners will receive an overall budget presentation beginning at 8:30 a.m. today. Budget hearings are scheduled throughout today, all day Monday, Tuesday afternoon following the commission's regular board meeting and throughout Wednesday. The hearings, which take place in on the fourth floor of the courthouse, are open to the public.