‘There will be tradeoffs’

Wages, health insurance priorities for commission

By Deb Hadachek Telescope editor

What’s old news is new again.

Republic County Commission chairman displayed a headline from a 1995 Telescope Clerk Kathleen Marsicek found while cleaning out old papers:

Commission puts county on short financial leash for remainder of year.

The article warns that in that year, department heads should clear purchases of $100 or more with the governing board.

“This has really been on my mind this weekend,” Splichal told fellow commissioners Marvin Bergstrom and Melvin Jeardoe Monday morning, reiterating a pledge he made last week that the county needs to hold the line on the 2019 budget.

“If we can keep mill levy the same, at least the same or less–we’ve just got to hold the line,” he said, pointing out that the overall mill levy will raise regardless in USD 109 with the 14 mill school bond levy recently passed.

“When you go out there it’s dry, there’s no growth in the pastures, grain prices are worth a hoot–it’s really negative here.”

“I think we need to maintain a little raise for employees,” Jeardoe said. “Big equipment is where we need to cut back.”

“I hate to see us cut our health insurance,” Bergstrom said. “Some (employees) won’t keep it if we do, and then they’ll need it.”

“There will be trade-offs in this whole process,” Splichal said. “But we need to put everything under the microscope.”

Splichal said he often hears that department heads “pad their budget”.

“In training classes they recommend (we build in) a three to four month carryover at the end of the year to make sure we’re secure for the first three months of the next year,” said Marsicek.

“There’s nothing wrong with having a little bit of a buffer, but we need to be realistic about things,” Splichal said.

Total appraised agricultural use land and improvements rose from $162 million a year ago to $179 million this year.

In other business Monday:

Robbin Cole, CEO of Pawnee Mental Health, asked the commission to consider raising the county’s contribution to mental health services from $26,260 to $35,000.

Jeardoe, who represents the county on the Pawnee board, said the mental health services provided to 140 county residents last year cost the service more than $400,000 to provide.

Pawnee serves 10 counties, and has an $11 million budget.