Power County eyes bigger budget

See the clarification for this story at the end of the article

by Daniel Moore

Press Staff Writer

Power County will discuss a budget, that at about $12.5 million, is roughly half a million dollars more than past years’ budgets. The budget hearing for the county is on Monday, Aug. 28, at 5 p.m., in the county commissioners chambers at the courthouse. Anyone is welcome to come comment on the budget.

The major difference for the higher budget comes from water rights bought by the county with a bond, said Power County Clerk Sharee Sprague. The county will start making payments on the water bond this year.

“It’s looking like a big hike on our budget, but it’s only the beginning of the bond,” she said.

The county did not know that the bank financing the bond requires the county start with a full year’s worth of payments saved up. The county had not budgeted for that extra savings. She is negotiating with the bank to show that the water is making money and so savings will increase faster than expected in the bond account.

The plan is to save the money coming in from the lease of the water rights for 10 years. At that point, the county can renegotiate the bond and get it paid off quicker, she said. …

Clarification
There was an issue in the article “Power County eyes bigger budget” in the Wednesday, Aug. 23, edition of The Power County Press, by Daniel Moore, where Power County Clerk Sharee Sprague was the main source.
Of issue was one paragraph, near the end of the article, that stated “To save money, the county cut some funds from the landfill by raising some fees.” The county did not raise landfill fees in 2017. It should have said that raising landfill fees is something done in other counties to cover landfill costs, but has not been done in Power County yet.
Sprague took issue with a few other sections of the article. In one paragraph, the article states “The plan is to save the money coming in from the lease of the water rights for 10 years. At that point, the county can renegotiate the bond and get it paid off quicker, she said.”
Sprague said in the interview, but was not included in the article, that saving the income from county-owned water rights and using that income to help pay down the bond after 10 years, was just one option county commissioners have with the income. They could also use the income to reduce the tax rate charged to county residents for the bond. The county commissioner have not made a decision yet on what they will do with the income.
The article said that Sprague is “negotiating” with the bond bank on saving a payment for the bond. Negotiations on a contract are only reserved for commissioners. While The Press maintains that “negotiating” was the term used by Sprague in the interview, a better term would be “communicating.” She was seeking clarification on the requirements of the bond bank, which was clear in the interview.
Lastly, the article said “the county saved some of the indigent fund to help with rent and utility payments for residents who were struggling. But the county had to first refer them to a local nonprofit, the Southeastern Idaho Community Action Agency (SEICAA).
“The commissioners decided to give SEICAA all the money it uses to help people pay rent and utilities. Instead of giving SEICAA $7,500, it will give the nonprofit $18,000.”
Instead of “saved some of the indigent fund” a better word choice would have been “set aside some of the indigent fund.”

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