Posted 7/26/16 (Tue)
By Carrie Sandstrom
Divide County commissioners are looking at the possibility of shifting county personnel around as they “explore options” for balancing costs and workload across departments in preparation for compiling the 2017 budget.
One of the options being considered is shifting the role of KayCee Lindsey, who serves as the county’s Community Development Director. Lindsey has been serving in a full-time capacity, however during a meeting with county commissioners last week, she said she would be able to fulfill her duties on a part-time basis.
The decrease in workload for Lindsey’s position corresponds with an increase in the workload for the county’s tax equalization office, as more cities and townships in the county have opted to have the county perform their assessing work.
According to County Commissioner Gerald Brady, the county has an obligation to assess properties if a city doesn’t do it. The county can bill cities for the assessment work once it’s completed, on a per property basis, but that doesn’t solve the problem of finding the manpower on the county level to perform the assessments.
The Divide County Tax Equalization office is currently looking for part-time help to assist with assessing properties now that the office is responsible for more townships.
“Right now, in Crosby, there’s a lot of value being missed because of short staffing,” Divide County Tax Equalization Director Heather Kippen said.
Jody Gunlock and Jan Jacobson out of the county’s emergency services and planning and zoning office have been assisting Kippen with some of the assessor duties.
According to Brady, finding part-time help with assessing is complicated by training and certification requirements, which can be time consuming and cumbersome. If Lindsey shifted her development responsibilities to part time, she would be able to assist Kippen with assessing.
“I think from the county standpoint they would prefer to use someone already employed to fill that needed position in her office,” Lindsey said.
In order to receive benefits, including health insurance, county employees need to work 37.5 hours, according to Lindsey. Working in both the tax office and the community development office could allow her to retain her full-time status and benefits between the two.
Brady said there are a lot of unknowns as commissioners work to prepare a budget, including uncertainty about the impact of oil prices in the coming year and the legislature’s special session slated for August.
“No decisions have been made yet,” Brady said. “We’re pursuing a lot of options.”
According to Brady the deadline for final budgets will be in October, and commissioners are hoping to have a draft done by sometime in September.
Lindsey also receives roughly half of her salary from the city of Crosby. According to Lindsey when she first started the budget for her position was much larger than it is now and the Jobs Development Authority she works with has been requesting less money from the city each year.
Now, she said it is likely her position will end with a deficit in 2017 if the funding isn’t increased.
With budgets tightening, Lindsey said, the ability to increase funding may be limited.