Cuts likely in early Clay budget
The Clay County Commission took a first look on Tuesday at a proposed 2010 budget that, if passed, would require a nearly 10 percent levy increase. But neither commissioners nor County Administrator Vijay Sethi harbored any illusions such a budge...
The Clay County Commission took a first look on Tuesday at a proposed 2010 budget that, if passed, would require a nearly 10 percent levy increase.
But neither commissioners nor County Administrator Vijay Sethi harbored any illusions such a budget will be passed.
"This is the starting point. There are all kinds of unknowns," Sethi said.
Because levy caps won't allow a tax increase of more than 3.9 percent under current rules and because the county has already cut spending to the bone, Clay County likely faces cuts in staff and services, Sethi said.
Higher fees are also a strong possibility, he said.
The total amount departments requested for 2010 is estimated at $27.7 million, which reflects an increase of just over 6 percent from 2009
The jump includes automatic step pay raises built into contracts, as well as $250,000 set aside for possible hikes in health insurance costs.
Sethi said the levy would have to be increased by
9.9 percent to cover the new spending requests and the anticipated loss of more than $600,000 in state aid payments.
"It's looking pretty bleak," Sethi told commissioners.
Earlier this year, commissioners approved more than $800,000 in spending reductions and revenue enhancements for 2009.
On Tuesday, the board endorsed a plan proposed by Clay County Social Services to start charging people for chemical dependency evaluations.
The $125 fee will be waived if someone is ordered by the court to obtain an assessment and already paid the court for it.
The fee may also be waived or reduced based on a sliding scale determined by household income.
Clay County Social Services does about 800 chemical dependency assessments a year that it does not receive revenue for.
Given the sliding schedule approved Tuesday, it's unknown how much revenue the new fee will generate, said Social Services Director Rhonda Porter.
The $125 fee understates the true cost to the county for doing the assessments, according to Porter, who said the actual cost ranges between $175 and $200.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555