Commissioner Jeff Burrows has served as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the past year. The position of Chairman of the Board is voted on annually and expires at the turn of the year. Like the placement of elected officials into office, it is geared toward the calendar year.
The county’s finances for the most part are not. They are geared to the fiscal year, stretching from July 1 to June 31. As a result, at the changing of the guard, we are halfway through the year’s budget.
Asked how the county was doing halfway through the fiscal year with respect to the budget, Burrows said that the county was doing really well, maybe a little above the mark.
Burrows has played a key role in refashioning and updating the county’s budget process. One major contribution was the organization of a complete inventory of county equipment and the development of a rational replacement schedule. He also refined the tracking in the Capital Improvement Fund by inventorying the buildings and forming a rational maintenance and replacement program.
Outside the budget question, Burrows said the County did well over the last six months on a number of fronts. He said the Commissioners are working hard on the county’s Natural Resource Policy which is in need of updating for a number of reasons. One is to be better prepared to participate in the Bitterroot National Forest’s Revision of its Forest Management Plans.
According to Burrows, the County has been working closely with Forest Service officials in that regard already. He said he was eager to get to know the new Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor.
Burrows said that progress on improvements at the airport was sort of held in limbo by a drawn-out lawsuit that was recently resolved by a court ruling in the County’s favor and that he was hopeful they could move ahead with a $1 to $2 million grant with no required match from the FAA to move forward with the project. He said the court ruling could be appealed, which would put the project in limbo again and the County could lose the opportunity for that federal funding.
The county is also working with the City of Hamilton to extend the city’s municipal sewage system to the county’s Targeted Economic Development District located just north and east of the City including the County Airport.
Burrows said the Commission has made other strides this year in improving its records management system, dovetailing that with improvements in the County Attorney’s Office. He said they were also able to make some major improvements at the Detention Center in terms of medical issues.
Overall, according to Burrows, the county is doing well fiscally and is getting some good things done. He said to kick off the new year, the commission is poised to focus on its large set of volunteer boards and see what it can do to make them more productive and effective.