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County unveils budget: Public hearing Tuesday on 2010 plan

A public hearing on Beltrami County's proposed $58.1 million 2010 budget is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The budget, which proposes no increase in the property tax levy, will be formally adopted Dec. 15, along with a proposed $16.97 million property tax levy for 2010.

Tuesday's public hearing follows the board's regular 5 p.m. meeting at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave., at which commissioners will also consider County Development Fund requests from non-profits.

Commissioners have received $221,199 in requests but only have $80,000 to dole out, as timber stumpage prices have declined. Requests range from a new Beltrami History Center exhibit to business recruitment efforts by the Joint Economic Development Commission.

Commissioners also at the regular meeting will hold a public hearing on a proposed county highway right-of-way encroachment removal policy.

To start the regular meeting, commissioners will hear a report on Bemidji Public Library activities.

The 2009 Legislature repealed provisions calling for a truth-in-taxation special meeting. Instead, counties, cities over 500 population, school districts and metro special taxing districts still must hold a single meeting in which the public is allowed to speak and the budget and levy is discussed. However, the meeting can be part of a regular meeting but held no sooner than 6 p.m.

Because of the potential loss of $2 million in state aids, commissioners have budgeted for 2010 and estimated a 2011 budget.

The 2010 proposed budget calls for $58.1 million in expenditures, up from $57.6 million this year. Revenues are put at $143,640 less than expenses while the 2009 revenues are expected to show a $500,552 surplus. But that comes after a $2.6 million deficit in 2008.

Estimated expenditures for 2011 are $55.6 million, with revenues expected to show a $116,139 loss.

The county fund balance at Dec. 31, 2008, was $31.6 million.

Property tax levies for 2010 are expected to total $16.97 million -- $330,855 less than 2009 levies, or down 1.91 percent . Estimated 2011 levies should go down again to $16.55 million.

"The proposed budget does not 'levy back' county funds cut by the state of Minnesota through the unallotment," a budget document states. "The proposed budget does not backfill state funding reductions for services/programs through local revenue sources."

As of July 1, the county has reduced personnel costs by more than $1.1 million by not filing vacant positions, the document states. "Additional savings by not filling vacancies is expected during 2010 and 2011. However, the county will need to address a number of problems created by unbalanced staffing in county departments."

Some budget highlights:

- Administrative support payments to soil and water conservation districts was eliminated.

- Support to the County 4-H Program was kept at 2009 levels, but 4-H was asked to raise $5,000 in 2010 and $10,000 in 2011 through fundraising efforts.

- Funding for county home care was kept for 2010, but phased out in 2011.

Commissioners at their 3 p.m. work session will discuss mental health transport costs and options and receive a Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program update.

The board's consent agenda for the evening meeting includes paying county bills and warrant payment listing,; retroactive paying of bills; approval of lawful gambling premises permit for Cattails Bar & Grill; approval of a contract with Mid State Auto Auction for transport, detailing and sale of forfeited vehicles; and, blanket approval to pay fleet fuel invoices.

Commissioners will be asked to approve a revised retention schedule of county documents and to authorize the submittal of a National Registry grant application for an archeological site in Three Island County Park.

Also, commissioners will be asked to approve a contract with Springsted Inc. to maintain the county job evaluation system, to approve the Cougar Ridge Subdivision plat in Waskish Township, to approve 2010 purchase of services contracts for health and human services and approval of 2010 host county contracts with residential providers.