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February 22, 2011 06:10 PM

Minnehaha Trims More Than $900K From Budget

Sioux Falls, SD


Minnehaha County tightened its purse strings this morning by nearly $1 million. Officials noticed earlier this year that the county faced an $800,000 budget shortfall because of a drop in bank franchise taxes.

County commissioners had asked various department heads to submit ideas to help cut costs. And while that's hardly popular this time of year, the commission was impressed by the smooth process.

One-by-one, and line-by-line, Minnehaha County commissioners heard proposed budget cuts from dozens of different departments, including emergency management, human resources, and the juvenile detention center, which proposed more than $60,000 in cuts alone.

"We'll just make some changes in the staff already to do that," Minnehaha County Juvenile Center executive director Todd Cheever said. "They're aware of that and they've been willing to help out when you can see our budget for overtime is very minimal.  I think we can make this work."

It took nearly three hours of discussions. But for the most part, commissioners were pleased with suggestions and accepted the proposed cuts.

"I do appreciate the fact you did do this and that you did it, quite frankly, without a lot of complaining or griping," Minnehaha County Commissioner Gerald Beninga said.

And in the end the efforts to trim $800,000 cut a total $902,000 from the budget. 

"I think we hear plenty of complaining going on right now about other people having budget cuts and I think the County and department heads have done a great job of coming forward," Minnehaha County Commissioner Cindy Heiberger said.

"There are several different responses you can take," Minnehaha County Commission chairman John Pekas said. "One is to be negative and to say I can't get there from here. And another is to rise to the occasion and say there are challenges and we're willing to meet those challenges."

Of the roughly $900,000 being cut, $234,000 will come from Minnehaha County employees taking two so called "holidays" next year from paying their premiums into the county health trust fund. While some salaries got cut, no jobs were lost.
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