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BREAKING NEWS

County board sets levy, budget and commissioner pay hike

By Staff | Dec 22, 2008

Commissioner Barb Steier received a certificate and flowers from the board, in appreciation of her six years of service. Commissioner Tom Loveall, right, made the presentation at Steier’s last meeting on Tuesday.

Faribault County Commissioners talked about the possible need to cut back on expenses next year, depending on what happens with the state slashing payments to the county.

However, they did approve the 2009 budget and levy, and said OK to several expenditures during the meeting, including a pay raise for themselves.

The vote on the budget and levy were unanimous. The budget has both revenues and expenditures less than the current year, but shows a $962,097 deficit.

Revenues are just over $17 million, with expenditures just over $18 million.

The commissioners set a preliminary property tax levy increase of 7.6 percent last month, and that is the figure they gave the final OK to at Tuesday’s meeting.

The increase will bring in $547,000 more in revenue to the county, compared to this current year.

The commissioners did warn their department heads that the budget could have some severe hits if the state cuts it’s aid to the county.

Commissioner Tom Loveall cautioned about making any large expenditures early in the year. Commissioner Bill Groskreutz added that hiring freezes could also be coming in the future.

That did not stop the board from authorizing County Engineer John McDonald purchasing a new grass seeder at a cost of $6,900, and a new tandem truck at a cost of $62,346.

“We have 10 trucks and replace one every year,” McDonald said.

They also went ahead with advertising for bids for a new staff person in the auditor/treasurer’s office.

John Thompson, the auditor/treasurer, said the new position will be an administrative assistant, and not an accountant or CPA.

“We will actually save about $30,000 by going this route,” Thompson told the board. “I think this will work out just fine.”

With the retirement of the treasurer, and combining the position with that of auditor, an additional staff person was needed, Thompson said.

The possibility of future budget cuts also did not stop the board from giving itself a raise, although one commissioner was not in favor of it. Commissioner Butch Erichsrud cast the nay vote.

“I think we need to set an example and not take the raise,” he said.

Loveall responded that it has been tradition to make the commissioners’ salary increase the same as the other county employees. This year that is a 3-percent increase. Commissioners base salaries will be $17,775 in 2009.

“Not taking the increase wouldn’t mean much in the scheme of things,” Loveall said. “But if there is a wage freeze next year, it would affect us too, of course.”