Williams County Commissioners approved a preliminary budget on Tuesday that includes $45.7 million in projected general fund expenditures, as compared to a $26.6 million appropriation for the same category in 2019.

The bulk of that increase is an $18 million transfer for county road projects in 2020.

Williams County Highway Superintendent Dennis Nelson outlined $30.2 million in proposed highway projects during preliminary budget hearings in July.

The projects he proposed then for 2020 include:

• Chip-seal for the eastern half of Williams County

• Culvert replacement on County Road 10 and County Road 1.

• Slope repair to County Road 42 from 72nd North to State Highway 50.

• Grading and paving for County Road 8 from the 13-Mile corner west to County Road 5 and on County Road 10 from County Road 21 west to County Road 19.

There’s also about $1.5 million for spot repairs and for county-wide culvert work and grinding, split equally among the three categories.

Williams County Chairman David Montgomery said one of the projects involves federal aid.

“When we have an opportunity to get some more federal aid for the project, we needed to find ways to do that project,” he said. “Those federal projects don’t come around every year like that.”

In addition to the five to six big road projects Nelson has planned, Williams county will also look at adding an Emergency Operations Center at the county’s new highway building. That would include an area for emergency services to store equipment.

There will also be a small remodeling project at the Sheriff’s Department for the old weed control building southeast of the courthouse.

Montgomery said the county has taken pains to grow with as little debt accumulation as possible. It has recently completed a new law enforcement center and jail, as well as a new administration building. While there were some loans from the Bank of North Dakota for those facilities, they have all been paid off.

In addition, the social services renovation, taking place now, has money already set aside to pay for it.

“In the last six, eight years, we have done well over $100 million in building projects alone,” Montgomery said. “And they are all paid for.”

The county is also remodeling the third floor of its county administration facility, to make room for the Department of Motor Vehicles, and it’s working with Williston on a joint communications center.

“It’s always been the commission’s intent to hold the increase to taxpayers to as little as possible,” Montgomery said. “And I firmly believe we have done that.”

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