Gallatin County agencies are asking for $16.1 million beyond what was included in the initial budget for next fiscal year, but the county has only $1.1 million to fulfill the requests.

“That means there are going to be some no’s,” commissioner Don Seifert said.

It is likely that about $75,000 of the available $1.1 million will be used to cover increases in worker’s compensation, employee health insurance premiums and liability insurance, said county finance coordinator Justine Swanson.

The jail likely will receive about $177,000 of the available money. Some of that would go to medical services, which have been costing more than the county anticipated when it brought the service in-house a couple of years ago. The remainder would pay for unforeseen maintenance projects, which were completed this year but which the jail cannot absorb in its budget, Swanson said.

The majority of the supplemental requests — $12.4 million — are for projects at the fairgrounds, including pavement repairs, building remodels and new construction. It’s likely some of the proposed projects will be covered by fair revenue, capital reserves and next year’s capital budget.

“It’s no surprise that it’s that much, but most of it won’t get done,” Seifert said. “We may go through and pick and choose some projects if there is money left.”

The IT department also made a large request — more than $1 million — to catch up on deferred maintenance, upgrade equipment, improve security and update staffing. The commissioners have asked the department to prioritize its requests.

Across all county agencies, the commissioners are looking at adding 14 new full-time positions.

“When we talk about growth, we always talk about where the people are going to go, but I think the real impact is how do we provide services for 3% more people each year. …,” Seifert said. “Technology helps with some of that, but sometimes, we need more staff to provide those services.”

County administrator Jim Doar has proposed the creation of a new department — the veterans services office, which would cost $200,000 next fiscal year for a director and two employees. The office would help veterans obtain the resources they need. Doar also proposed the department last year but the commissioners declined to fund it.

In past years, the county has had significantly more than the $1.1 million for supplemental requests, said commissioner Joe Skinner.

The lack of available money stems in part from budget decisions made this fiscal year. This year, the commissioners gave county employees a 6% raise, paid for in part with $500,000 from next year’s budget. The commissioners also approved new positions this year that increased personnel costs by about $160,000.

“We don’t regret doing this and knew this was going to happen. We had to do it to bring our employee salaries to where they should be,” Skinner said. “We made some decisions last year knowing they would affect this year’s budget, but it probably did so more than we anticipated.”

Decisions the county has already made about next year’s budget also contribute to the lack of available money for supplemental requests. There are 16 additional hours of payroll totaling $200,000 next year because of how the payroll calendar falls and because 2020 is a leap year. The commissioners have also approved pay raises of about $837,000 and agreed to give the struggling Gallatin Rest Home about $390,000 in additional money.

The commissioners will have budget work sessions at the Bozeman Public Library on Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They will present the preliminary budget at a June 25 public meeting. Public hearings on the budget will follow on July 16, July 23, July 30, Aug. 6 and Aug. 20.

Perrin Stein can be reached at 406-582-2648 or at pstein@dailychronicle.com. Follow her on Twitter @PerrinStein.

Perrin Stein is the county, state and federal government reporter for the Chronicle.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.