An expected contract with the Department of Corrections taking 50 beds at the Crow Wing County Jail cushioned cuts that may have dipped into personnel to make the county board's 2008 budget.
Tuesday the Crow Wing County Board set the 2008 tax levy increase of 3 percent for $34,826,787. That meant the county had to cut an additional $660,928 or find new sources of revenue for a final levy of $34,165,859.
The expected DOC contract should bring in $250,000 for 2008. Capt. Jerry Negen, jail administrator, was praised by Sheriff Todd Dahl and the board for his efforts to contact the DOC and get the contract. The DOC pays $58 a day for each inmate housed in the county jail.
"The employees of the county should thank you because you just saved about four jobs," said Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom.
"He's done a tremendous amount of work to try to get revenue back into our county," Dahl said of Negen. "I'm very proud to say he did a great job."
To get to the 3 percent tax levy increase desired by the Crow Wing County Board, the county needed to make $660,928 in cuts or find more revenue.
Additional non-tax levy revenues were found totaling $225,000.
Departmental budget reductions totaled $165,376.
Personnel reductions totaled $220,552 by not filling vacant positions, cutting assessor's office interns and wages for a contract appraiser, filling a recorder's office position at a lower payment level than originally projected.
The 2007 property tax rate was 34.001 percent. With a property tax rate at a 5 percent tax levy increase, the rate would have been 31.075 percent. At the 3 percent levy increase, the property tax rate is 30.484 percent.
Negen said after building a jail designed to meet the county's needs for 20 years it would have been short-sighted to think it would be full quickly.
Auditor Deborah Erickson said an additional $50,000 was confirmed for 2008 from payments made from the federal government for U.S. properties in lieu of paying property taxes. With the down-turn in the housing market, the county expects to take in $75,000 less from revenues from the planning and zoning department.
In other budget adjustments:
$50,000 was saved by reducing the money set aside for the county's compensation study.
Total training and travel reductions of $93,826 across departments.
Highway budget reductions of $28,800 came in training, equipment rental, general supplies and computer equipment and software.
Auditor budget reductions of $15,000 came from contract services by using in-house staff for the online tax information and purchasing items in 2007 rather than in 2008.
Coroner contract reduction of $8,750.
Geographic Information Systems reductions of $7,500 in contract services and computer software.
Saving $6,500 by delaying the purchase of a new postage machine until 2009.
Reduced budget by $5,000 expected to pay for new K-9 police dog by using K9 reserve fund and purchasing the dog in 2007.
Commissioners Paul Thiede and Nystrom complimented the auditor's office and departments for their work. Thiede said the budget was still an increase but was moving in the right direction.
Erickson said departments reviewed and revised budgets many times over in a collaborative process.
The board also made adjustments to the 2007 budget. The commissioners' 2007 budget was increased by $10,000 to cover board members' per diems for meeting attendance. The 2008 budget reduced the per diem line item by $7,000. The commissioners' 2007 budget required the transfer of $8,375 from the general fund, including $1,000 for registration fees and $3,000 in mileage reimbursements.
The special election for the District 5 commissioner's seat cost the county $44,550, which came from general fund reserves.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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