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Work continues to trim Benton County budget for next year

VINTON – The Benton County Board of Supervisors discussed further ways to cut the county’s budget in two meetings last week in Vinton.

The board also heard several funding requests as it finalizes its budget.

According to board minutes from last Tuesday’s meeting, Deb Harrison presented a proposal requesting more funding for the Shellsburg Library. Harrison stated the present payout scheme seemed dated and has not been updated since the 1970s. Harrison reported the library has to increase staff hours due to increased patronage. The proposed funding levels are based on 50 percent of the county’s allotment, dispersed equally between the county libraries and 50 percent of the allotment dispersed to the libraries based on readership levels. Supervisor Ron Buch stated they needed to consider the proposal before making a decision.

The board also discussed the budget for FY11 with the Veterans Affairs Director. There was no action taken. However, it was discussed that a part-time assistant would not be considered for FY11.

The board also met with several department heads about their budget, including Marc Greenlee for land use and sanitarian, the Benton County Engineer, transportation, maintenance, recorder, information technology and attorney. No action was taken.

Dave Coulter and Ranae Becker with Benton Development Group presented their budget to the board and also gave updates on projects and current activities the group has been working on.

The county auditor reviewed her budgets with board, which included administration and elections. The auditor provided a brief update on the status of financing options for the law enforcement center and an energy grant as well.

In other business at last Tuesday’s meeting:

The board acknowledged the receipt of the annual manure management plan filed by K & W Hogs for a facility located at 1641 71st St. Keystone, Iowa.

The board approved the Veterans Affairs quarterly report for the period ending December 31, 2009.

The board set the date for a land use hearing requested by Benjamin and Jenny Reineke for March 2, 2010, at 9:15 a.m., on a parcel located in the NW 1/4 SE 1/4 Sec 24-82-12.

Todd McNall with Design Dynamics and Emily Rice with The Energy Group discussed with the board the services available through The Energy Group. The Energy Group can provide services that would assist the county in obtaining loans for the geo-thermal project for the law enforcement center. Rice also discussed energy audits that could be done on the county’s buildings.

The board decided to audit the Department of Human Services building, Governor Sherman building, courthouse, and the transportation building for their energy use.

The engineer reported that the balance in the Benton County State Bank landfill account on January 31, 2009, was $75,555.65.

The engineer updated the board on the Federal Economic Stimulus funding. The engineer prepared two projects on behalf on Benton County. One of the projects is resurfacing E66 between Belle Plaine and Luzerne.

Thursday meeting

The board met again on Thursday at the courthouse.

They set Feb. 23, 2010, at 9:15 a.m., for the time and date for a public hearing on reducing the appropriation for juvenile probation and increasing the appropriations to public health nursing.

The board also allowed the Food Pantry to use additional storage area in the Governor Sherman building until June 1, 2010.

The board reviewed various county budgets and met with the sheriff, county attorney, and conservation director. Reductions were made to discretionary funding including, but not limited to, the fairgrounds and historical organizations.

A reduction in funding to Benton Development Group was discussed in the amount of $5,000 or alternatively to begin charging the organization rent for the office space they currently occupy. The board also discussed charging rent to the Volunteer Cooperative, which is currently occupying office space in a county building.

The board requested that the budget be re-worked to incorporate the various reductions discussed and to increase the general supplemental levy. The budget was to be worked on at the next board meeting on Feb. 9, including but not limited to, ways to reduce spending through sharing of department resources, financing options, reductions in budget requests, etc.

A meeting with the Benton County Farm Bureau is planned for Feb. 15 in Vinton to discuss the proposed budget. The county plans to publish the budget on Feb. 24, with a hearing held Tuesday, March 9 at the courthouse in Vinton. The first day of the new fiscal year is July 1, 2010.

UPDATED February 10, 2010 12:50 PM

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