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July 28, 2010 06:03 PM

Half-Million Dollar Mistake

SIOUX FALLS, SD


It's back to the drawing board for Minnehaha County Commissioners after discovering a half-million dollar mistake in its 2011 proposed budget.


County officials say the error was made by the auditor's office, and resulted in commissioners dealing with the wrong numbers in their last budget meeting.

The county must adopt a final budget by the end of September. But at least one commissioner says finding another $500,000 to cut from the budget won't be easy.

The county spent months this summer hammering out a budget they thought would hold the line on spending.

"Our goal was to come in with a flat budget, we understand how difficult this economy is for taxpayers and we really wanted to come in with a flat budget," County Commissioner Carol Twedt said.

But when the numbers came back from the auditor's office, the budget was $64,639,170, a half million more than what they thought they were going to pass. 

"This was a huge surprise for us and not one that made us very happy," Twedt said.

If the budget stands as is, the owner of $100,000 of property will see an increase of .77 cents in the county portion of their tax bill. 

"If you look at that increase objectively, it's less than a one percent increase in our budget and I think any other year that would be perfectly palatable, but our goal was to come in with a zero increase," Twedt said.

The 2011 budget doesn't allow for any new employees, nor does it give cost of living raises to current employees. That's why Twedt says finding another half million to cut won't be easy in a county that continues to grow. 

"We can go back to department heads and try to find dollars in budget but they are frankly going to be very difficult to find," Twedt said.

There'll be a public hearing on the budget the first Tuesday of September. The final budget must be adopted by September 28.
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