BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – After settling on a $158,000 shortfall in the county budget, county officials replaced $90,000 in expenses to the budget including a $75,000 payment to the county’s Public Safety Answering Point, that had been removed in an effort to get the budget shortfall minimized.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Supervisors, that money, along with $10,000 to county libraries and $5,000 to the Lee County Fair Board, was added back to the proposed budget. County Budget Director Cindy Renstrom said the new figures generate an approximate $160,000 shortfall in the next fiscal year that ends June, 30, 2019.
A budget sheet handed out at the meeting shows a negative balance of $1.681 million. However a mental health fund, or Fund 10, as it’s known on the county books has $1.492 million that the county is projecting to spend down. There is no levy this year for that department as state regulations require counties to have those funds used for services prior to 2020. That money was received by the county from the state to offset expenses incurred as a result of closures of mental health facilities across the state.
When that spend down is calculated out of the total shortfall, the county is looking at $188,968.
Supervisor Gary Folluo, who at a Feb. 2 meeting, asked Renstrom if it was possible to pull $75,000 out of the $150,000 the county fronts the PSAP organization. The county fronts the money in lieu of taxes as PSAP receives funds through the levy authority of the Lee County Emergency Management Commission. Commission director Steve Cirinna said the money is then paid back to the county in increments as the commission receives its tax proceeds. It was incorrectly reported on Feb. 3 that Renstrom suggested holding the funding back. Renstrom was responding to a question from Folluo as to the viability of holding the funding back, which was eventually held back at that meeting.
“At the last budget meeting we had to make some cuts and we cut some money from PSAP and we were short about $158,000. Now we put that money back in and the library and fair and we’re short $160,000? How did that happen?” he asked Renstrom.
Renstrom said she forgot to change a couple of files that impact utility tax revenues on her spreadsheet and the entered numbers on the Iowa Department of Management website that cleans things up, She said the budget that was approved by the supervisors on Tuesday has a $189,000 shortfall for the fiscal year.
Supervisor Rick Larkin made a motion to accept the budget with the $90,000 added back in and set it for public hearing on Feb. 27.
The county’s levy for 2018-19 under the proposed budget is $10.38/$1,000 assessed valuation. The levy is broken down as follows: $3.50 – General Basic,; $3.15 General Supplemental; $0.88 – Emergency Management; $0.63 – Debt Service; and $2.24 – Rural Basic. The levy is projected to generate $12,231,384 for the county which is an increase of $539, 263 over fiscal year 2018. The levy rate itself is the same as the previous two fiscal years.
As part of the workshop that took place after the regular meeting, Fort Madison Chief of Police, Tim Sittig, who chairs the PSAP board, along with all the board members with the exception of one, talked with the supervisors about the importance of keeping the funds in place while the PSAP board is able to save enough money to be totally self sufficient.
In other action, the board approved, 4-1, another change order on the south Lee County Courthouse for $1,680 for additional costs associated with flashing replacement on sections of the roof. Supervisor Ron Fedler, who has opposed almost all change orders due to the project coming in over budget, voted against the measure.