WALKER -- Cass County Board Chair Jim Demgen predicted Tuesday the $1.4 million state aid losses the county expects in 2004 could mean the loss of 20 to 25 county jobs next year.
For the first time in many years the full county board will serve with five citizen members and auditor-treasurer office representatives on the budget committee this year to prepare the 2004 budget.
Since the budget committee was formed in the 1980s, only two board members have served on the budget committee each year.
Department heads will prepare their 2004 budget proposals in July. The budget committee (including the full county board) will review and attempt to match those proposals with overall available county funds beginning in August before the board sets a preliminary property tax levy Sept. 2.
Citizen representatives to the county budget committee include Richard Tappe, Ken Eggers, James Sandelin, Robert Maroney and Larry Martinson.
The Cass County Board voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt $667,204 worth of cuts department heads offered to make from their budgets this year to offset 2003 losses in state aids.
Chief Deputy Auditor Larry Wolf said this still leaves the county about $53,000 short of offsetting state aid losses this year.
The cuts include dropping the county newsletter, the toll-free telephone line to the courthouse, Housing and Redevelopment Authority transportation costs, gopher bounty payments to townships and county contributions to the Pillager and Pine River fairs, Cass County Historical Society, Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Family Safety Network and Mississippi Headwaters Board.
The $89,342 contingency fund originally planned for use on public safety and roads was eliminated. Total savings from these cuts and the contingency fund will be $179,142.
The auditor-treasurer office expects to collect more in liquor licenses, mortgage registration and state deed taxes and other fees, then spend less on professional services, telephone charges, furniture and equipment and for public examiner services, netting a $54,000 savings and increased revenue from that original budget.
The assessor plans to save $11,300 by using fewer professional services, spending less on meals and lodging and not buying furniture and equipment previously planned.
Management information services will cut $29,500 this year by spending less for dues and registrations, new programs, computer supplies and equipment.
The county recorder will not attend a summer conference this year, saving $600.
By spending less for employee services, not applying calcium chloride to the back courthouse parking lot and shortening the courthouse air handling run time, building and grounds costs will be lowered $8,000.
The sheriff will not replace equipment, will not fill one dispatcher position and will lower the lease cost at the Cass Lake substation for a total $79,000 savings.
Because costs for placing children at Northwest Juvenile Training Center will increase an estimated $60,000 this year, cuts the probation department made for dues and registrations and furniture and equipment will leave that department's actual costs at an expected $53,900 more this year than the original budget projected.
The county attorney told the board costs in his department also could exceed budget projections because of an unusually high number of murder trials pending.
Extension service will reduce part-time clerical costs, equipment purchases and miscellaneous costs for a $6,090 savings. The soil and water conservation allocation will be reduced by $5,465.
Environmental services dropped a proposal to add an intake position this year and will eliminate recycling containers at six locations, plus reduce recycling services for fluorescent light tubes, saving $68,900.
Road and bridge will save $111,300 by eliminating a plan to pave around the Remer garage and by reducing cutting edge purchases, overtime, seasonal personnel, culvert purchases, bridge repairs and temporary employees.
The health, human and veterans services budget will be lowered $163,307. This includes reducing payments to the council on aging by $14,882, to children's initiative by $15,000, to children purchased services by $36,300, to adult purchased services by $2,400, to veterans services by $5,000, to community health programs by $17,000 and to WIC program by $7,000.
It also involves eliminating the toll-free telephone line to the Health, Human and Veterans Services office in Walker and calls for increasing case management revenue by $60,000.
Cass County will reduce to the minimum the law allows the 2003 payment to Kitchigami Library, saving another $4,500.
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