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Minnehaha County Commissioners Reject New Staff Funding

July 29, 2014, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

Minnehaha County Commissioners Reject New Staff Funding

Several Minnehaha County offices are being denied additional staff members because of the lack of available funds. The county commissioners approved a preliminary $72 million budget for next year that started to come together in March with every department submitting budget requests.

"They start writing up their reports that they're going to give to us to let us know what they need. We instruct them that it's going to have to be lean and I think they've learned that over the last three years that there's not a lot to work with out there," county commissioner Cindy Heiberger said.

After receiving those requests, the commissioners go through them line by line, cutting out everything that isn't essential, and even some things that are.

"There's a lot of things that should've been funded that we didn't have the money for it. We cut out about $3.5 million of necessary spending," Heiberger said.

One of those areas not getting funding is for additional staff at the Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office. They requested money for two additional deputies.

"We serve eight communities in Minnehaha County, and since 2007, we haven't hired any deputies specific to patrol," chief deputy Michelle Boyd said.

Even after seeing an estimated eight percent increase in calls for service.

"It's something that we request. Usually year after year we put in at least one request and so we just hope that the funding is there and this year it was not," Boyd said.

Heiberger says the big reason for the lack of funds is that the main source of revenue for the county is through property tax, and she knows the reaction when the word tax is brought up.

"We're looking and trying to find new ideas as to how we could increase revenue, but nobody wants their taxes increased on their property taxes," Heiberger said.

"The county takes care of a lot of different things that the city or the state are not responsible for, and it puts a big financial burden on them, and we recognize that," Boyd said.

Boyd says emergency calls that aren't considered severe will be put toward the bottom of their priority list, but they will still continue to keep up with the calls to service. She says they will be in front of the commission next year for another request for additional staff.

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