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County budgets trimmed
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The county’s finance committee whittled department budgets down during budget hearings on Wednesday, Sept. 5, and Thursday, Sept. 6, although more cuts have yet to be determined.
The finance committee started the process with a goal of cutting $429,000 from 2013 budgets. Throughout the meetings several cuts were made or savings were realized, reducing the goal to approximately $150,000 to be cut. Several Lafayette County departments will present revised budgets or answer more questions from the finance committee at a special meeting on Sept. 18.
“We’ll get there without any problems,” Sandy Deininger, director of finance for Lafayette County, said.
She said there weren’t any surprises, although she and the committee are waiting for answers from some of the departments. She said the Lafayette Manor budget numbers need to be revised as nobody knew where the numbers came from; Catherine Krentz, who is on administrative leave from the manor, prepared the budget and nobody knows how she came up with some of the numbers. The manor has not dipped into the referendum money yet for the 2012 budget, which is due to cuts to the maintenance and dietary departments because of the low census and no longer providing meals for the jail. The budget that was prepared assumed the census would remain approximately the same and reduced staffing and food expenses.
“One item that I’ve had problems with since I’ve been on here [finance committee] is they [the manor] have fines in the budget,” county supervisor David Hammer said. “I would think the employees themselves would step up to the plate… I think internally the employees could work on this.”
County supervisor Ron Niemann said the state keeps receiving calls about the manor and they have to investigate those calls, resulting in fines for the manor.
Deininger said the biggest challenge for the finance committee during the budget process will be figuring out how much Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County should fund the county.
“The committee is looking at requesting a percentage of the hospital profit to come back to the county,” Deininger said.
The hospital plans to make approximately $1.3 million in 2012, of which approximately $200,000 was allocated to return to the county’s general fund.
“Other departments don’t have a choice,” Deininger said. “They have to give back all of the money they don’t use. The hospital is the only department that actually makes money.”
Sherry Kudronowicz, administrator of Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County, said the hospital has put an expansion project on hold and is saving for the anticipated 2014 capital expenses.
No staff have been cut, although the committee wants to investigate merging the land conservation department with the planning and zoning department, possibly reducing some staff and using only one department head for the new department.
For the first time in 35 years, the Seniors United for Nutrition (SUN) meal program is requesting funding from the county for the program. SUN is a stand-alone non-profit program with no association with the county except for serving residents within the county.
Cecile McManus, director of SUN, said the program has gotten by on donations in the past, but those donations have dwindled in recent years while food and gas prices have risen. She requested $25,110 from Lafayette County to keep the program within the county. The SUN program also serves Iowa County, which receives more funding than Lafayette County, but serves fewer people.
The committee will review revisions to several departments’ budgets on Sept. 18.