Tri States Public Radio Staff
Mon January 27, 2014
Lee County Facing Significant Shortfall
The Lee County Board of Supervisors has made some initial decisions regarding the county's upcoming budget, but there is still plenty of work to do.
The panel got its first overview of the nearly $40-million dollar spending plan this week.
When revenues and expenditures are factored in, there is a $2.1-million dollar deficit.
The supervisors have several options to address the shortfall: use fund balances, increase the property tax rate (currently projected to be flat) or cut spending.
They have decided to start with cuts, and more specifically, but cutting proposed raises for themselves during the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2014.
The panel has also agreed to reduce its anticipated $20,000 contribution to the Lee County Fair Board to $15,000.
Monday's budget workshop was not all about cuts, though, as the panel agreed to increase the salary of the county's budget director by $5,000 and to accept wage increases proposed by the county's compensation board for the County Attorney, Auditor, Sheriff, Recorder & Treasurer.
The supervisors also agreed to boost funding to the Lee County Library Association by $2,500 and to keep $78,000 in the budget to possibly build a shower facility at Wilson Lake.
None of the moves are permanent, though, as additional workshops will be held, including one later this week.
The $2.1-million deficit is expected to swell to $2.5-million to make sure the county is "protected" from potential legislation in Des Moines.
State Senator Rich Taylor (D-Mt. Pleasant) is drafting a bill that some county leaders believe could reverse a reorganization plan from 2011 that allowed four departments to stop operating offices in both Keokuk and Fort Madison.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Ernie Schiller wants to include enough money in next year's budget in case the legislation becomes a reality and the state does not pay for the re-reorganization.
The heads of the four departments (Auditor, Assessor, Treasurer, & Recorder) told the supervisors, this week, that it will cost them about $400,000 to reopen offices in both county seats.
By contrast, they say they saved more than $300,000 by closing the offices in 2011.
Legislation Being Drafted
Centralizing County Government
Chair Pleased With Results
Candidates Have Opposite Views