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Glacier County facing budget crisis

Posted at 10:18 AM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 12:49:56-05

Glacier County is in a crisis.

They currently are about $5 million in debt to themselves and don't have the funds to keep operating.

“What will we do to make it through May and June?” asked Glacier County Commissioner Chairman Michael J DesRosier.

Glacier County representatives have been seeing an ongoing issue with budgets and poor planning within the county since 2015, but they have said they are working on a plan and have other ways they hope to help the county through.

Chairman DesRosier also said, “We don’t know yet. We have some plans in place if it requires furlough's or layoffs. Plans in place to work with the job service to unemployment.”

The County has reduced their budget by 65% percent and it’s hurting them.

Glacier County has been considering shutting down certain departments for those two months to help with costs. One of those departments would be Glacier County Historical Museum -- and May and June is there prime season.

“Shutting down is really not an option because we have that’s when our visitors come this is a seasonal operation,” said Dennis Seglem. “One staff member which is myself and even I’m reduced down to 32 hours a week.”

They have also been just trying to keep up with the basic needs.

Seglem said since last November they have been having to pay their own utility expenses, which are normally covered by the county, as well as other costs to keep their doors open.

“The objects, as far as taking care of them, monitoring for pesticides controls, rodents and again a part of our mission to interpret the history to the public you have to be open,” Seglem said.

Some of the other departments that are in danger of closing for May and June would be the Weed Management Department as well as the Glacier County Library.

One of the largest issues is Indian Health Services not paying for emergency services to Glacier County, which put them about $3 million in debt.

Glacier County officials filed a lawsuit and is hoping to at least retrieve $1 million from the dispute.