HHS costs helping drive budget

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Goodhue County commissioners discussed shifting three main items from the almost $62 million preliminary 2018 budget; a third bailiff position, Public Works roof and the Wanamingo landfill closure during the budget workshop Wednesday, Aug. 16.

With these items on the chopping block, the preliminary budget would decrease from where it rests now at $61,974,149 to $61,056,149.

Budget assumptions at the meeting also included a 2.5 percent board approved general wage adjustment, step increases based on positive performance evaluations, 12 percent increase in health insurance and a fraud investigator contract.

The most significant increase was seen in the Health and Human Services department. The first draft of the budget indicates a property tax levy increase of more $3 million. Health and Human Services' portion is nearly $1.5 million. The increase, staff noted, is due to cost shifts by both the state and federal government in a number of ifferent areas.

While the state used to pick up a large part of the cost in this area, the responsibility has shifted to local government.

"We have a lot of people in Goodhue County that need services, when we are required to send them out of county it's expensive," said Carolyn Holmsten, county finance director. "We have many dollars that we spend there; this is just the anticipated increase."

Proposed levy

The 2018 preliminary levy rests at $34,217,195, which would be $2.2 million over the 2017 levy.

Over half of the levy is set to the county's general fund, with Public Works receiving 12 percent and Health and Human Services at 21 percent.

Six percent is allocated to capital fund and another 6 percent to pay off debts, with waste management following behind at 2 percent.

The County Board is scheduled to vote on the preliminary budget and levy Tuesday, Sept. 19. The preliminary levy is filed with the state, the county cannot raise that amount but can lower it before certifying the final levy near the end of the year.