Commissioners to approve budget, tax rate

Howard County commissioners are expected to give final approval to the budget for the coming fiscal year when they meet at 10:30 a.m. Monday on the third floor of the county courthouse.Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the new budget and tax rate during the meeting, then are expected to vote on approval of the budget. The tax rate will be formally adopted Sept. 23.The proposed county budget will feature several new expenditures, including $500,000 to pay the county's share of costs for a new landfill and an increase of more than $240,000 to help pay for ambulance services.The major increased expense, however, will be in salaries. County Auditor Jackie Olson said all full-time employees, including elected officials and commissioners, will receive a yearly raise of $2,600. Sheriff's deputies will see an even bigger pay increase, as their salaries will be hiked by $4,472 a year.Part-time employees will receive a raise based on a sliding scale, Olson added.She said the pay raises will add approximately $530,000 to the new budget.The new budget has a built-in deficit of roughly $1 million, but Olson said reserve funds would be more than adequate to make up the shortfall.For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of the Herald weekend edition.