BRIEF PACKAGE: 2017-18 budget approved by county officials

The Sweet Grass County Commissioners approved the 2017-18 fiscal year budget on Sept. 7. After a 2016 property appraisal across the county, taxpayers may see a slight increase in their taxes come November. 

While the overall number of mill levies went down from 137.78 to 135.20 this year, the taxable value of a mill went up to $18,859.07. 

Non-voted levies will require nearly $4 million ($3,956,628) to operate in the 2017-18 fiscal year. Commissioners felt comfortable with this year’s budget and feel like the county is in a good place. Budgeted cash reserve is as high as it can go at 33 percent, and the county is also starting to budget for savings that will go toward improvement projects, such as the Old Boulder Bridge. 

The main reason for the slight tax increase is primarily because of the appraisal that made homes a bit more valuable than they used to be in some areas. Because a home may be worth more, that also means taxes will go up. 

The entire county budget is set for $13,199,829, but that doesn’t mean all $13 million will be spent. Savings are also budgeted in and accounted for in the overall budget. 

Timber Tech gathers for Sept. meeting 

The Timber Tech robotics club met for their first meeting in September last week, discussing new and old business for the upcoming season.

Members discussed fundraising plans and sending out sponsorship letters, which have all been signed and then made a list of businesses to deliver to. 

Timber Tech is the donation recipient of the Raw Deal Run fundraiser. Timber Tech participants are asking those sponsors to send their donations through the Raw Deal Run with Timber Tech as a specified beneficiary. The club will also be handing out letters in the coming weeks, asking donors to sponsor Timber Tech before the Oct. 7 deadline.

For new business, the club watched the new FIRST Tech Challenge robot game. This season’s challenge is named Relic Recovery. 

Teams must build robots that can lift and stack foam blocks in patterns. Completing this task will allow teams to retrieve a relic and place it in the relic recovery zone. Members said this challenge will be more difficult than last season’s.

Timber Tech has already begun working on robot design ideas and strategies. The next meeting will be Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Evangelical Church. Timber Tech invites and new or interested members to join and check out the club. 

PMC board discusses memorial fund

The Pioneer Medical Center met for it’s September meeting on Sept. 7, discussing a handful of topics from staff improvement to checkups with all the departments.

Mainly of note was the discussion about PMC’s memorial fund, a non-designated account that has more than $450,000 which can be used for a variety of reasons in any department. 

There are some funds reserved for designated departments, which means that money has to go specifically to the department the donator requests. 

The PMC board decided to invest $200,000 in a nine-month certificate of deposit (CD) and another $200,000 in a 39-month CD. Each CD has a specified fixed interest rate — the nine-month plan at .95 percent interest and the 39-month plan at 1.94 percent — and can’t be withdrawn without penalty before its maturity date.

The discussion was about where to put the memorial fund, which has just been in a checking account, what kind of CD and how much would go into the CD. In the end, it was decided to put the $400,000 in two CDs with Opportunity Bank in Big Timber. 

Memorial funds can only be used after board approval. 

There was discussion about dividing the money up between banks, because PMC does do business with other local banks. Opportunity Bank gave the board the best fixed interest rates, however. There is currently $457,819.83 in the memorial fund.  

PMC CEO Gary Hamilton has been working with staff members to understand how better to benefit their working environments. Staff surveys, retreats and daily meetings have began to foster better communication between departments and between Hamilton and the rest of his staffs, he reported.

By STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Pioneer Staff Writer

 

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