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  Comments (1) Total Thursday Apr. 24, 2014
 
Lincoln County Prepares for More Cuts
Commission votes to cut justice of the peace, school superintendent jobs
Shrinking budgets are forcing Lincoln County officials to make cuts for the New Year. On Monday, Dec. 30, Lincoln County commissioners voted to cut two elected positions; a justice of the peace and the county’s school superintendent.

Tony Berget, the longest serving commissioner, said the cuts had to be made because Lincoln County is receiving less funds from the federal government as part of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. That law helps counties with large swaths of land held by the Forest Service that is not taxable.

“Lincoln County is losing funds, we’re deficit spending, because the rural school funds continue to shrink,” he said. “We can’t keep offering BMW or Mercedes-Benz type services when we don’t have the money… But we think we can offer good services at a good price.”

The vote to cut the two elected positions was two for and one against. Eureka Commissioner Mike Cole had the dissenting vote. Cole was not available for comment as the Beacon went to press.

Berget said the county’s two justices of the peace, Jay Sheffield and Stormy Langston, will continue to serve out their terms in 2014 and both can run for the single position during this year’s election. Berget said although the cuts were tough, it made sense to have only one justice of the peace because only five counties in Montana have two justices, all of them larger than Lincoln County.

Lincoln County Superintendent of Schools Ron Higgins will also serve out his term in 2014 and then the position will be dissolved next year. Higgins’ work will be passed on to a contractor or the county treasurer or clerk and recorder.
Berget said more cuts would have to be made in the future as the county’s budget keeps shrinking.

“I anticipate there will be more cuts,” Berget said. “We have to cut one-fifth of everything Lincoln County does.”

The commissioner added that he hopes the county will not have to lay people offer and that positions can be whittled down as county employees retire in the future. He also said the county has taken steps to reduce employee benefits as a way to save money.

“These are hard decisions that affect people’s lives and that’s not something we take lightly,” he said.
 
On 01-25-14, lincolncountyguy commented....
Commissioner Berget is making this sound like everyone is okay with this decision and that having a Superintendent of School and a Justice of the Peace office is not a necessity.  His comment about giving Mercedes Benz service is a slap in the face to the…
 
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