Board approves $3.2M budget reductionThe Washington County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday, March 24 to amend the county’s adopted 2009 budget by a reduction of $3.1 million.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday, March 24 to amend the county’s adopted 2009 budget by a reduction of $3.1 million.
The spending cuts, which include the elimination of 21 county staff positions, along with several other items are the results of anticipated cuts in state aid that are expected as the state makes reductions in its budget in the face of a projected $4.6 to $6.4 billion shortfall in the next state fiscal period, said county administrator Jim Schug.
County staff and commissioners actually began taking actions to make some of the recommended budget reductions earlier this month following a February workshop where department heads, administration and commissioners put together a list of expenditure items that could be cut to make up for the shortfall.
“Rather than let the year go by and have to try to deal with this later, the department heads, in a series of discussions with the county board in a workshop that was held in February, put together a proposal to reduce expenditures in 2009 by up to $3.1 million,” Schug said during a formal presentation to commissioners at the March 24 meeting.
The board’s 5-0 vote to make the budget reduction official included more than $500,000 in cuts to service contracts it has with several organizations, including the University of Minnesota Extension Service, Human Services Inc. and local youth service bureaus. The cuts to 4-H funding are included in this category, Schug said.
Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek pointed out to 4-H supporters in attendance that the cuts the county made to 4-H funding were just one of many spending reductions included in the $3.1 million budget adjustment.
“4-H and extension obviously wasn’t the only cut,” Pulkrabek said. “There is eight pages of other things that were eliminated in the process as well.”
Commissioner Gary Kriesel commended department heads for their work in coming up with the list of cuts that he said would force staff to “do more work with less” resources.
“These are not cuts that we’re making without pain,” Kriesel said.
“And we don’t know what’s coming in the 2010,” said board chair Myra Peterson. “That’s the scary part.”
Schug said the county will be paying close attention to the ongoing legislative session to see whether it will see any further reduction in county government aid in 2009 or 2010.
Late last year and earlier this year, the county found out it would be losing more than $1 million in aid from the state.
The county has also seen reductions in revenue in areas such as investment income, property transactions fees and various other fees service, which Schug said is being felt by many local governments as the result of a downturn in the economy.