Glacier County officials have discussed the County’s “deficit” during meetings, but only in general terms. When asked, County officials would not provide what the amount the County’s deficit was at fiscal year end or presently. A deficit of over $4.5 million, however, is listed in two “Negative Balance Repayment Plans” that were submitted to the State of Montana’s Department of Administration (DOA) by Glacier County.
The DOA has repeatedly asked County officials to provide specific information on “which agency funds have lent the County cash” and to specify “terms for repayment.”
Glacier County Chief Financial Officer Chancy Kittson submitted two plans to DOA outlining how Glacier County anticipates paying down the $4,542,741.00 deficit.
Under Kittson’s Plan A, it will take Glacier County until FY 2023 to eliminate the deficit, while his Plan B will see the County paying off the debt in 2024.
Neither plan was submitted to the Glacier County Commissioners for their official approval during a noticed public meeting.
Both plans state the County implemented a mandatory 20% cut in spending for FY 2020, which runs from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. The plans also claim Glacier County is asking voters to approve a “Detention Center Operating Cost” levy on the November 2019 ballot. That process, however, has not been started. According to Glacier County Election officials, it is too late to put any type of voted levy on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Kittson’s Plan A anticipates Glacier County will receive nearly $3 million in past due payments to Glacier County EMS from the Indian Health Services to help wipe out the deficit. It also calls for the use of $150,000 from the District Court Capital Improvement Fund, $61,301 from the proceeds of the online auction of EMS equipment and $240,915 of unbudgeted PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) funds. At the end of FY 2020, this will result in the County’s deficit being reduced to -$1,229,219.
In his Plan B, if the County does not receive the IHS past due payments, the deficit at the end of FY 2020 will be -$4,090,525. The County will still use the approximately $500,000 in District Court Funds, online auction proceeds and unbudgeted PILT to pay down the deficit.
According to Kittson’s Plan B, “If the anticipated A/R (accounts receivable) from IHS is not realized…the County will cut an amount equal to $1,019,129 from the County budget, allowing for the entire PILT payment to be applied to the repayment of the negative balance.”
The County will do this in FY 2021, FY 2022, FY 2023 and FY 2024. At the end of FY 2024, the County anticipates it will finally have paid down the deficit and will end the year with $83,615.
As a general practice, Glacier County has used the more than $1 million PILT payment from the Federal Government to supplement its annual operating budget.
As of press time, State officials have not responded which, if either, repayment plan is acceptable.