December 3, 2009 at 8:19 a.m.
Commissioner Mike Robinson was the lone no vote.
He stated he needed to know more about how cuts will actually be implemented in various programs; but the rest of the commissioners felt it's up to those programs how to proceed.
The $25,000 reduction proposed on the regional library line item, for example, is going to have to be discussed by the East Central Regional Library Board as to where the reductions are applied, remarked Commissioner Lora Walker. "It's not a county decision how the system is operated."
Likewise cuts in funds for the senior center or meals on wheels operations will have to be worked out by those program administrators.
Commissioner Walker stressed that anything the Board is expecting from employees, the county commissioners must also adopt. (There is a two percent pay cut in the budget for 2010 commissioners' wages.)
Commissioner George McMahon added, "Nobody's happy about this, nobody's happy to have to do this. We gave staff direction (to reduce the preliminary budget) and they followed this to the letter."
Chair Ben Montzka added, "We can't expect taxpayers to keep supporting business as usual. Changes are going to affect people...we are dealing with the worst economic challenges of my lifetime...the way services are provided will change."
There were allegations from Robinson about not being "allowed" to participate in budget subcommittee meetings and he said committee meetings violated open meeting law. A recess was called while staff dug up records on the subcommittee sessions and the accompanying notices of the meetings, none of which seemed to support Robinson's contention of a backroom budgeting process.
Commissioner Walker did seem to take to heart some of Robinson's concerns for more detail, and made a motion to delay voting on the budget adoption until December 2, but Robinson didn't second the motion. He later told this reporter he held-off for McMahon or Greene to second, to see how they'd vote, and when neither offered a second he figured tabling would die 2-3.
The 2010 county local levy has not been finalized yet.
The county was to hold a taxation hearing for public input Dec. 2 and adopt the levy. Also, line items within the budget can still be adjusted as long as the bottom line amount doesn't increase.
Also, if you get one of nine county ditch levies applied on your property tax statement, the ditch levies are all proposed to remain the same as 2009.
In another taxation matter -- the county "Solid Waste Fee" which is a separate line item on your tax statement remains at $10 for 2010. The fee was first assessed in 1989 and has been as high as $40 and as low as $10. The solid waste fee vote was unanimous.
In other matters: there are two at-large openings on the water Plan Advisory Team and at-large and District 4 openings for the Extension Committee. The seats expire at the end of the year. Contact the county commissioner for your district or county administration to apply.
Kathy Nelson, coming up on her 35th year as a county employee, was recognized for winning national honors as the NEW Horizon Awardee for 2009. The award honors achievements by a financial worker in the field of Social Services.
Commenting has been disabled for this item.