County budget hike cut in half

Commission OK’s 7 mill increase

Register City Editor

Allen County commissioners slashed their 2010 budget increase nearly in half Tuesday.
At the start of the day, the proposed budget contained a levy increase of 13.577 mills. Following two hours of deliberations, the in-crease was decreased to 7.427 mills, with a total levy of 64.652 mills, or a 12.9 percent increase.
Chairman Dick Works pointed out the increase was due to lagging interest on idle funds, a 2 mill levy to support 911 emergency services operations and loss of $126,000 in state assistance for road and bridge projects received the past two years.
The 911 levy is necessitated by the county taking charge of that department Jan. 1. Previously, Iola and the county shared costs at the dispatch center in City Hall. By the end of the year commissioners expect to have a new site for the center, possibly combined with an ambulance station and emergency management center. The shift of 911 dispatch fully to the county came at behest of the 911 Advisory Board, encouraged by the county’s chiefs of police.
If no further cuts are made to the budget, general fund expenditures will be $4.9 million, up $895,000 from this year. The general fund provides money for all operations within the county except Public Works. The budget also funds a variety of services and organizations traditionally supported by the county.
Funding for road and bridge construction and maintenance - the county has more than 1,000 miles of roads and numerous bridges - will be $2.35 million, $165,000 more than this year. Another $609,589 is set aside for special bridge projects, such as the Allen-Neosho counties line bridge on old U.S. 169 that will be replaced next year. Another $2 million is in the landfill fund and $750,000 is held in legally required reserve for closure of the landfill.
The general fund, at 31.398 mills, and road and bridge, at 17.459 mills, account for a large portion of the total levy. Total expenditures are estimated at $12.8 million, compared to just a touch over $12 million this year.
A public hearing on the budget will be Aug. 25 at 11 a.m.