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BREAKING NEWS

County nixes paying for fair, EDA insurance

By Staff | Jan 26, 2009

Although they said budget cuts were not going to be part of last Tuesday’s Faribault County Commissioners meeting, discussion on areas which could be cut kept coming up throughout the morning.

When it came time to pay the bills, Commissioner Bill Groskreutz found two items he thought should be removed from the list.

Both items had to do with insurance premiums. One was $1,725 for insurance for the Economic Development Authority, the other was $7,610 to cover both workmens compensation insurance and property casualty for the fair association.

Groskreutz said the county already gives an $86,000 budget to the EDA, and felt the insurAlthough they said budget cuts were not going to be part of last Tuesday’s Faribault County Commissioners meeting, discussion on areas which could be cut kept coming up throughout the morning.

When it came time to pay the bills, Commissioner Bill Groskreutz found two items he thought should be removed from the list.

Both items had to do with insurance premiums. One was $1,725 for insurance for the Economic Development Authority, the other was $7,610 to cover both workmens compensation insurance and property casualty for the fair association.

Groskreutz said the county already gives an $86,000 budget to the EDA, and felt the insur-ance premium should come out of that amount.

Plus, he felt the fair board has other income amounts which could cover their insurance cost.

“Just because we have traditionally done this in the past doesn’t mean we should continue,” Groskreutz said.

Commissioner Tom Loveall agreed. Earlier in the meeting he had said everything is going to have to be on the table when it comes to looking for areas to cut.

“We had $135,000 cut in our last Local Government Aid check,” he said. “I think worse case scenario it could be 10 times that amount before we are through.”

The board was split on their vote to not pay the insurance premiums for the two groups. Groskreutz, Loveall and Butch Erichsrud voted to not pay them, and Tom Warmka and John Roper voted to keep them on the bills to be paid list.

“I want to hear more about the reasons we have always paid this, before I decide to cut it out,” Roper said. Warmka agreed, pointing out that County Auditor John Thompson was not at the meeting to give them an explanation as to why those bills were on the list.

There were several other times that potential budget cuts came up during the meeting.

– Even though board members said OK to hiring a new county economic development director, they questioned a $50,000 payment previously authorized for the new Go Minnesota private economic development corporation.

Commissioner Loveall asked what the county is going to get for the $50,000 donation to Go Minnesota, when they still need to have their own EDA operating as well.

“There is a contract in place which details what they are going to do,” Groskreutz said.

However he also said the Go Minnesota group will not be administrating the loans which the county EDA has out.

Groskreutz also pointed out that a Gunther grant pays for 75 percent of the cost of the county EDA director.

“Their employment is based on the grant,” he said. “If the Gunther grant goes away, then the employee goes away.”

The board said they want members of the county EDA board and the Go Minnesota group to come to the next meeting.

“I think this whole county EDA situation needs to be looked at,” Loveall said. “I just don’t understand how this contract works.”

– Commissioners argued over how to make potential future cuts.

Loveall suggested telling the department heads as soon as possible how much they need to trim off their current budgets.

“I don’t want to micro-manage, but if I was a department head I would leave myself some elbow room in my budget,” he said.

Erichsrud disagreed and wanted a longer, more deliberate study of where cuts could be made in each department.

– Central Services Director Brenda Ripley reported to the board what some other counties are doing.

“A lot of them are implementing hiring and wage freezes,” she said. “Others are also doing an across the board 5-percent reduction in each departmental budget.”

Ripley added that counties are looking at having employees take a day a month off without pay, or cutting back on hours of service.

“They are looking at reducing the hours the offices are open to the public,” she said