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County faced with library budget shortfall

Jill Schramm/MDN The Ward County Library continues to operate as usual, although it has had to dip into its cash reserves due to a budgeting error that reduced its tax collections.

A budget shortfall has left the Ward County Library in a dilemma.

The Ward County Commission tabled any decision after examining its options Tuesday.

The library’s cash on hand was over-estimated by about $167,000 in both 2020 and 2021 budgets, according to County Auditor/Treasurer Marisa Haman. As a result, the mill levy was lower than needed to cover expenses. The library has been using cash reserves to sustain its budgeted expenditures, including using most of the money set aside for future bookmobile replacement.

Haman offered three options: continue as is and levy more in 2022 to replenish library funds; allow the library to take a loan from the county general fund; or authorize a transfer of funds from the general fund to cover the library’s deficiency.

Commissioners questioned the feasibility of using general fund dollars because those taxes come from all county property taxpayers, while the library levy isn’t imposed on Minot city residents, who pay taxes toward their city library. The decision to table leaves the library, for now, managing as it has been.

The county levied 2.5 mills for the library for 2021, amounting to $22.50 for the owner of a $200,000 home. The levy was 1.61 mills for 2020 and 2.7 mills for 2019.

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