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County cuts $368K from 2009 budget

By Staff | May 11, 2009

Anticipating at least $350,000 in local government aid cuts from the state later this year, Faribault County Commissioners took the first step in cutting over $368,000 from their current 2009 budget.

They gave County Auditor John Thompson the go-ahead to implement the cuts and bring a revised 2009 budget – reflecting the changes – to the next commissioners meeting for final approval.

Among the cuts were $225,000 in personnel salary related reductions. The recently voted on pay cuts and unpaid furloughs are included in this amount.

Commissioners learned at their meeting last Tuesday that the other two employee unions had also signed letters of support for the furloughs, joining the two which had been reported at the last meeting.

The commissioners also voted to rescind an earlier motion to begin possible personnel cuts since now all departments have agreed to the furlough program.

One item on the budget cut list which garnered the most attention was a proposal to reduce the money given to the Faribault County Historical Society by $2,800. Currently, the county gives the historical society $14,000.

Commissioner Bill Groskreutz said he felt it was not enough of a cut, and proposed slashing the amount by half, down to $7,000.

“We don’t donate to any of the other historical societies in the county, so why this one?” he asked.

His motion to cut the amount in half died for lack of a second. He later tried to get support for a similar cut to the society as an amendment to the motion for the total budget cuts.

It too, died for lack of a second. Groskreutz then voted ‘no’ on the overall budget cut motion.

Other cuts included trimming $4,500 from the $22,000 given to the county fair board, $5,000 from river cleanup funds, $3,000 from the library reimbursement fund and $10,000 from the ag contingency fund in the extension budget.

There was also $55,000 cutfrom the public works department, and several budget cuts in the sheriff’s office which had been previously discussed. These included reducing capital outlay funds by $27,500, delaying the hire of new jailers, and reducing overtime.

The county is also lowering the mileage reimbursement rate from 55 cents to 45, and cutting back on training and travel budgets.

The county board didn’t only make cuts when it came to financial issues at Tuesday’s meeting.

They also:

– Approved having the sheriff’s office apply for a $600,000 grant for new radios for emergency personnel throughout the county. If approved, the county’s share would be $25,000.

– Approved $800 for trees for a windbreak at the new law enforcement center, plus another $1,000 for other landscaping at the new building.

– Authorized up to $50,000 for cleanup on a drainage ditch in the eastern part of the county.

– Went into closed session to discuss, and then authorize, a bid on a 2.06 acre property near Walters which would be used for construction of a new radio tower. The county would pay for the land, while the state would pay for the tower.