Bonner County now on sound fiscal ground

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In response to Mr. Beyer’s letter (Daily Bee, Aug. 28). Mr. Beyer, thank you for the opportunity to correct some of your misstatements and assist you in correcting the record.

We didn’t see you at last year’s or this year’s 46 hours of budget workshops so I don’t expect you to know that we do, of course, have reserves and that because of an approximately $18 million deficit Commissioner Jeff Connolly and I inherited, we needed to make some spending cuts. Last year, for the first time in Bonner County history we were able to cut almost $9 million from the budget. Again this year, we found over $3 million that we could cut from the budget as well.

Last year, we told the public that we would have to take the allowable increase and make cuts just to get the county back to a fiscally responsible position and to do so without cutting services. To try and cut the entire $18 million in one or two years would have meant cutting much needed services to the citizens of Bonner County.

On the issue of raises, what you may not know is that the county is going into the fourth year of a four-year process of getting wages up to average for all employees. This started two years prior to Commis-sioner Connolly and I coming into office and the last to get adjusted are all the elected officials, not just commissioners.

What you also don’t appear to know is that this year we also made market adjustments for Road and Bridge operators, EMS and Planning personnel that are around a 20-percent increase to meet market demands. Over the last three years we have done the same to other department to get them to the point where we are now giving merit raises, which by the way, are greater than cost of living increases.

We don’t have hackable voting machines, flooding and fire are funded by federal agencies and, in fact, Bonner County does not have a fire department to begin with. We have funding for unexpected contingencies and our expenditure projections show that we should spend about $4 to $5 million less than budgeted.

Again, we have not sacrificed a single service but we have changed the culture where moral is high, everyone is looking for waste to eliminate and we are running a more fiscally responsible government than we have seen in some time.

These are due to new ideas introduced, not old ideas. Many of the new ideas are things we have introduced and that have never been used before like central procurement that has saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to me at the office or via my personal cell number, 208-661-0428. Weekends and after hours calls are welcome.

Dan McDonald represents District 3 on the Bonner County Board of Commission. He can be reached at the Bonner County Administration Building, 1500 Highway 2, Suite 308; by phone at 208-265-1438; or via the county website at co.bonner.id.us.

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