In the process of making an anticipated $1.2 million in 2009 budget reductions because of state funding cuts, Crow Wing County expects to focus on priorities.
Administrator Tim Houle told the board Tuesday the senior management team has been focused on the budget. Recommendations are expected to the board when it meets Jan. 20 as a committee.
Houle said when the state informed the county Dec. 22 it would be withholding $596,000 from the expected 2008 second half funding, it was too late to make cuts and that meant dipping into savings.
In other business, the board:
Heard a recommendation from County Attorney Don Ryan that could save $50,000 from the budget by moving to a contract rather than an hourly fee for court-appointed attorneys. Ryan said the county pays $65 an hour without a cap and bundling services in a fixed contract for a year presents a savings. The board is expected to discuss the option in greater detail later.
Tabled consideration of discontinuing a committee appointment if an individual missed three consecutive meetings. Commissioner Phil Trusty said he didn't feel the motion was necessary as it was his job to make sure appointees were fulfilling their responsibilities.
Accepted a combined bid from the Brainerd Dispatch, Lake Country Echo and Crosby-Ironton Courier for the printing and publishing contract after looking at circulation numbers compared to the bid from Newshopper Publications Inc. and discontinued spending about $2,800 for a secondary publication of the county financial statement with the Newshopper.
Thiede said the most underreported news story in 2008 was the demise of newspapers and while publishing is a longstanding statute, he questioned if it served the public. Thiede said the county could place items on its own Web site. The county spends a little more than $100,000 on publications per year.
Terry McCollough, Brainerd Dispatch publisher, said small town dailies and weeklies are doing far better than major TV networks, radio or print media. While the industry is in the midst of a migration from print to online, McCollough said at this time the right method to inform the public is to have both.
Renewed a medical director service agreement with Dr. Paul Carey for the jail facility, a position Carey has fulfilled since November 2002.
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