'Everything is on the table'Goodhue County commissioners will be forced to cut services in 2010.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County commissioners will be forced to cut services in 2010.
Commissioners will not decide for several months what non-mandated programs will suffer, but made it clear Monday at their annual workshop that balancing a budget with substantially less state aid without raising taxes will not be pretty.
"Everything is on the table," Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said. "We're going to have to focus on the nitty and the gritty."
Non-mandated programs and services that could be on the chopping block include:
• Cannon Valley and Goodhue County fairs
• Goodhue County Humane Society
• Cannon Valley Trail
• Public Health nursing, aide and homemaker services and volunteer transportation
• Memorial Day appropriations and veteran's transportation
• Passport, birth and death certificates
"In 2010 most cities and counties in state will be forced to cut some non-mandated services," County Administrator Scott Arneson said.
Before attacking the 2010 budget and making decisions about non-mandated services, commissioners will focus on shaving $700,000 out of this year's budget.
Estimates indicate that's the amount of state aid Gov. Tim Pawlenty will pull from Goodhue County, though local officials suspect that number will be higher.
Department heads have been working for months, making suggestions and trimming to prepare for state aid reductions.
"This process is a daily, hourly process we're working on," Arneson said.
Using management's ideas, Arneson presented commissioners one option for trimming the 2009 budget.
The plan would mean not filling open surveyor and human resources positions, and includes more than $100,000 worth of savings already made in the social services department.
Commissioner, sheriff and county attorney salary reductions and other project and equipment savings round out the list.
"A lot of these have already been done," Arneson said.
Commissioners will meet with management team members next month to hash out more details before possibly voting in April on an amended 2009 budget.
The board will consider more cuts later if necessary.
"Everyone is walking around on pins and needles," said Andrea Benck, administrative assistant. "They want to know what the process is from here."
@Sub Heads:'2010 is going to hurt'
@Normal: Handling this year's amended budget will be all about delaying, shifting and cutting, Arneson told commissioners.
That tactic likely won't work next year.
"The first $700,000 is not going to hurt," Commissioner Ron Allen said. "But we have to cut even more for 2010; 2010 is going to hurt."
Goodhue County's state aid could be slashed by $1.2 million next year.
They've yet to work out the details, but commissioners agreed Monday they must make tough decisions to handle those cuts without passing the pain on to taxpayers.
Those decisions, commissioners said, need to be discussed as soon as possible.
"We need to be able to pull this off with no increase to the levy, or a minimum increase to the levy," Commissioner Ted Seifert said. "People out there are hurting."
Goodhue County staff and commissioners will continue to discuss cost-saving measures over the next few months.
A few ideas presented Monday were:
• Move Goodhue County Extension to the Government Center and eliminate the equivalent of one full-time position
• Transfer food, beverage and lodging licensing responsibilities back to the state
• Minimize the number of county cell phones and cell phone plans
• Have private haulers pick up county recycling
• Have a centralized secretary for three offices in the Government Center