Lincoln County Commissioners seek to educate voters

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. The Lincoln County Commissioners say they came under fire as some misinformation circulated throughout the community.

The proposition of adding two more commissioners to the board has ignited spirited debate. While those living in rural areas feel having more people in the office will provide more representation, other's say it'll do nothing more than add more financial burden to a system they feel is working just fine.

Lincoln County Commissioner Joe Hewgley says a local newspaper ran a paid advertisement in the voter's guide claiming the budget disbursements have more than doubled over the last 10 years. Others have even accused the commissioners of fraudulent activity surrounding the funds.

"I want people to be informed of the real numbers," says Hewgley.

"If I were to have believed the numbers I saw I would have voted to tar and feather all three of us commissioners and run us out of town on the rail. "

Hewgley says the "proposed budget" numbers were made to be confused with the "actual disbursement" amount.

The proposed budget is more of a guesstimate of funds that the county could use or possibly claim over the coming year. All potential scenarios have to be considered when coming up with that number. So naturally the amount will be bigger.

Everything from potential projects to the Sheriff's Office confiscating a sum of money from a drug bust have to be accounted for when projecting the budget. If there isn't enough room to receive the increase when unexpected events like these happen- it has to be turned into the state instead of being used elsewhere within the community.

Actual disbursement is entirely different. Just as the title suggests, it's the literal use of funds by the county. Every transaction in which the county funds are used have to be recorded and then kept for public record in the County Clerk's Office.

Lincoln County's proposed budget for 2017-18 was approximately $42.7 Million. Their Actual disbursement, or money they actually used, was approximately $25.6 Million.

Hewgley says he doesn't know if the misinformation was circulated to get more votes in favor of appointing two more commissioners, but says he wanted to help educate voters on the facts.

He also adds that whether or not the people decide to appoint two more commissioners doesn't affect him. Regardless, he says he will continue to do his job on Wednesday whether it's with three or five people on the board.