Highway department will get $9M in final 2021 county budget

ABERDEEN, S.D. (By Elisa Sand esand@aberdeennews.com) – Brown County commissioners raised the highway budget to $9 million before agreeing to the final adoption of the county’s 2021 budget Tuesday.

The county highway department took a $3.5 million budgetary hit in 2020, as commissioners evaluated the best way to address a $4 million deficit. That reduced the highway budget from $9.32 million to about $6 million last year.

Much of that cut was restored in the county’s provisional budget for 2021 that had a proposed highway budget of about $8.8 million. The highway budget is just one of the departmental budgets in the county’s overall budget, which provisionally checked in at $30.75 million.

When the the provisional budget was adopted, commission Chairwoman Rachel Kippley said she wanted to see the highway department at $9 million.

That increase came through a proposal from Dennis Feickert, who suggested using $200,000 in surplus cash, which put the highway department budget just shy of $9 million. Following discussion, Feickert’s proposal was amended to increase the highway budget to a flat $9 million.

Commissioners then adopted the county budget following adoption of updated utility revenues.

In other action, Tuesday, the commission discussed the addition of a second door to the planning and zoning office.

Planning and Zoning Director Scott Bader said he prefers a second door as opposed to a proposal to cut a hole in the wall to create a window for customers. He said the second door would have a clear barrier at the top through which customers could slide paperwork.

Building Superintendent Judy Dosch said that after consulting with a contractor the door frame would need to be modified to accommodate a second door.

Bader said a second door would also provide a more temporary solution for his office, which he feels needs at least one more person to handle the increase in work it has seen.

The county planning and zoning office is now fielding requests from residents who are within 3 miles of Aberdeen city limits. That’s since the county took over jurisdiction of that area about a year and a half ago. It was previously handled by the city.

Bader said he will be asking for additional help in his office next year. While there isn’t room for another person in his current office, he said, there is space in the lower level of the annex. That area was previously used by the Brown County Communications Center. The planning and zoning office is currently in the lower level of the annex in an office on the north end of the Community Room.

The cost for improvements would be reimbursed by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities Act, Dosch said, but the work would need to be completed by Dec. 30.

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