Ward County Commissioners trim budget for 2017, will save $190K

MINOT, N.D. - Ward County Commissioners are doing some belt-tightening as they put together next year's budget, amid concerns from the public.

The commissioners voted Sept. 27 not to fund a long-standing weather modification program, that will save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The weather mod program has been aimed at adjusting weather to help farmers protect their crops.

Weather mod planes perform what's known as ‘cloud seeding,’ where they drop crystals into clouds to make it rain.

They can also curb hail storms.

Roger Neshem, a farmer from Berthold, brought to the issue to the attention of the commissioners at their public meeting on the budget, saying he and others questioned the effectiveness of the program.

“I've had four hail storms this year. Not one, not two, not three, not four. Weather mod was flying during every single one of those. And since weather mod has stopped their flights, we've had six and a half inches of rain now,” Neshem told the commissioners.

Here's a recap of what this means:

The commissioners voted to remove the weather modification program from the budget which will cut $190,000.

That county began its involvement in the program back in the 1970's, and must approve funding for it every five years.

With the cut, the mill levy will not change from 2016 to 2017.

The commissioners narrowly voted to defund the program by a 3-to-2 vote.

Commissioners Shelly Weppler and Jack Nybakken, who voted against, wanted more discussion before slashing the funding.

The commissioners will approve the final budget at their next regular meeting next Tuesday, Oct. 4.

You can find more information about Ward County budgets by logging on to co.ward.nd.us.