RED WING — Goodhue County’s 2020 levy and budget will be finalized after a County Board vote in December. Before that, a preliminary levy will be set on Sept. 17. In order to set the preliminary levy, the board and heads of departments met Sept. 3 to discuss what needed to be cut, added and remain in the budget.
The levy proposed was $37.07 million, which is about a 3.01% increase from the 2019 levy. Commissioners agree to cut only one item at the meeting: $50,000 for the county’s new drug court.
According to Kelly Bolin, the county’s finance controller, the percentage of the four-year grant that has been used so far this year is much smaller than originally planned for a couple of reasons. First, the program started three months later than planned, and second, the incentives portion of the program, which requires more funding, is not a main aspect yet. As more and more individuals move through the program, the incentives stage will be more frequently used.
The $50,000 that was cut from the budget is extra money that had been added for the court on-top of the grant.
County Attorney Stephen O'Keefe told those gathered that he has budgeted about $125,000 for each year of the four-year grant. He went on to say that he and Judge Douglas Bailey are committed to working within the set budget.
The extra funding to the drug court may not happen in 2020, but commissioners are still interested in funding the program after the grant ends in three years. Board President Brad Anderson stated:
“My hope always was that we would always be putting a little in there, so that when it ran out we’d still be able to continue and budget going forward based on success.”
Commissioner Barney Nesseth proposed cutting $200,000 from the budget for county roads.
Anderson and Public Works Director Greg Isakson held steadfast to the roads budget.
“We’re still under-funding our system based on our 50-year life cycle cost analysis. We’re still $6 million a year short,” Isakson told Nesseth.
To compromise, Anderson and Commissioner Paul Drotos committed to take $200,000 from the South Country Health Alliance before the budget is voted on in December. This is, according to Drotos, assuming that the river doesn’t rise or anything else happens before then.