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Local boards study state budget cuts

School, county officials both deal with dilemma

October 14, 2009
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer

As expected, local boards tried to grasp the impact of a 10 percent across-the-board cut in the state budget announced by Gov. Chet Culver last week.

"Of course we're going to have to reduce expenses," said Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District Superintendent Dick Magnuson at Monday night's board meeting. Magnuson said a 10 percent cut to the district would amount to $643,000. "We believe we can use some of the stimulus money to backfill the budget."

However, without any stimulus money on the horizon, next year could be a different story.

"Next year is going to be a big issue for every school district in the state," Magnuson said. "With no allowable growth and a 10 percent reduction, it's going to be a very difficult year."

The same concerns were echoed when the Emmet County Board of Supervisors met with department heads Tuesday morning.

Auditor Mikki Erickson said while farming would likely help stabilize the economy locally, rural areas generally take longer to recover from a recession.

"I'm looking for suggestions," said supervisor Ron Smith in seeking ideas as how to deal with the 10 percent budget shortfall from the state.

"Their revenues are down," supervisor Alan Madden said about the reason for the state cuts. Madden said though that he was uncertain which quarter the 10 percent cutback would take effect.

"It's a lot of smoke and mirrors, I think," Madden said. "I think we need to be careful about how we react."

Supervisor Jim Jenson said he had heralded budget shortfalls and so had called for tightened county spending months ago.

"I started being the bad guy in July," Jenson said. "The state cutback is going to affect us. If we're short now we're going to be more short next year."

Supervisor Bev Juhl, former auditor, said county mental health would be most directly impacted by the 10 percent state budget cut. "Our balances are going down so even without the 10 percent cut we're going to have to watch it," Juhl said.

Board Chair Randy Beaver said he was also concerned about the cuts.

"All that trickle down is going to raise the property taxes," Beaver said.



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