Custer County Board of Supervisors Approves Budget; Denies Variance

CUSTER COUNTY—While the budget was one of the more important topics of the Custer County Supervisors on Tuesday, September 18, it was not the most talked about. The Custer County Supervisors approved the tax rate at 0.164751 which is lower than the 0.167037 of last year and also approved the property tax request for the General Fund to be set at $5,963,690 which is less than the $6,043,080 from last year. The Sinking Fund was set at $50,000 which is less than the $100,000 from the previous year and the Communication Fund will be set at $160,850 which is more than the $112,550 from 2017-2018.

At the board meeting the week prior, the board heard bids from different companies on four separate bridges around the county. On Tuesday, the board approved by a 4(yes)-2(abstain) vote, to allow Myers Construction to work on the Anselmo southeast bridge and the Sargent northwest bridge. Materials from Ace Irrigation in Kearney were approved unanimously to allow the county to work on the final two bridges near Berwyn.

Kurt Gill has been working on building a three car garage addition to the side of his house which sits on a floodplain near a creek that spends most of the year dry. A certain time ago, the state re-evaluated the height at which the floodplains should be at throughout the state. Numerous areas changed elevation, but the area that Kurt is planning to build his garage has risen eight feet from the previous measurement.

The way in which this test is done is by flying a plane over the land and taking readings as the plane flies over, plugging those readings into a program, and using whatever numbers are sent back out. As a result, no physical work is done at each floodplain to see if the readings are accurate. The elevation at which Gill’s property sits is also the same level as the highway and another floodplain less than a mile away. However, the floodplain only rose four feet at the other floodplain zone.

For this reason, Gill was looking to file a variance to allow him to build the garage at whatever elevation he wants due to the fact that the measurements done by the state were proved incorrect by an independent engineer. If the new measurement that had been done by FEMA had been correct and a once in a lifetime flood occurred, the amount of water flowing by his house would be the equivalent of a three foot deep river flowing down Highway 2.

To apply for a variance through FEMA, there is a list of questions that must be answered by the Custer County Supervisors. All of these questions have to be answered “yes” by the board to allow a person to build in a floodplain at whatever level they choose.

While Gill was very comfortable taking the risk of building the new building at his level, the board was unable to answer yes to the variance questions. All members of the board were disgusted with the fact that the variance had to be denied and were very apologetic. Gill seemed to be understanding that FEMA had tied the hands of the board, but even so was not pleased with the result.

The next Custer County Board of Supervisors meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 25 at 9 A.M.