WALKER - Cass County Board voted Tuesday to cut another $250,000 from the 2010 budget to offset expected state funding losses - the cuts were made largely by not filling employee vacancies.
The board started the year with about a $500,000 reserve fund, designed if needed to offset state aid losses. As the projected state deficit rose and the governor and Legislature proposed cuts to local aid, the county board voted earlier this year to use that $500,000 for aid loss offsets and added another $258,000 in budget cuts.
Tuesday's action will bring a total of $1,006,406 in cuts from the original 2010 budget as set in December.
By delaying until this month filling a custodial vacancy, the county saved $11,250. Instead of using a part-time employee in the land department to do forest inventory quality control work, the land department will save $5,000 by instead paying the county's existing management information systems department staff to do the inventorying.
By not replacing at this time a sheriff's investigator who will retire, a corrections officer who will not return to work after being on workers' compensation or a probation officer who recently resigned, the county will save $193,140.
After the cost of unemployment claims, the county will save $15,000 by laying off an assessing department sales technician (clerical, not appraiser). Two vacancies in the highway department will remain open for now, with that department using retirees on an on-call basis to save another $20,000. Fewer than expected easements will be needed this year for highway construction projects, saving another $5,000.
While representing Cass at the March 24-25 Association of Minnesota Counties 2010 Legislative Conference in St. Paul, Administrator Robert Yochum and Commissioner Jim Demgen met with Reps. Larry Howes and John Persell. Among the points they made, Yochum said, was the fact that when rural versus metropolitan issues arise, metro legislators need to know that 41 percent of Cass' taxpayers live in Minnesota, but outside the county and 29 percent are metro residents.
When the Legislature cuts spending for rural counties, metro residents also are affected, because many also own properties in the rural counties, Yochum noted.
The board voted Tuesday to appoint Assistant County Assessor Mark Peterson to fill the unexpired term through Dec. 31, 2012, of Assessor Steve Kuha, effective May 1. Commissioner Jeff Peterson abstained on the vote, because he is related to Mark Peterson.
Commissioners Demgen and Jim Dowson, County Attorney Christopher Strandlie, Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson and Yochum interviewed assessor candidates from two other counties in addition to Peterson before recommending the board appoint him.
The board presented certificates of appreciation to Kuha and recently retired building maintenance employee Leonard DeWitt for their service to the county.
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