Martin Co. tackles budget

FAIRMONT – Martin County commissioners began planning a 2014 budget Tuesday.

County Auditor Jim Forshee explained that state lawmakers passed levy limits on all cities and counties, in order to increase local and county government aid.

If all county department proposed budgets were approved for 2014, the county would be looking at an increase of $2.1 million, or a nearly 19 percent levy increase. But the state’s levy limit formula only allows Martin County a maximum of a 5.31 percent, or $608,000.

“We’ve used reserves over the past few years, and we need to make that up,” Forshee said.

This leaves $1.5 million to be cut from initial budget proposals.

Forshee’s suggestions include eliminating the supervised visitor coordinator position, and not filling a full-time maintenance job, along with several other smaller cuts.

Forshee’s initial budget suggestions equal a decrease of $507,000 in expenses and an increase of $111,000 in revenue, But this still leaves $357,000 in cuts needed to get to the state’s 5.31 percent maximum levy limit.

Keeping in mind that 1 percent of the levy is equivalent to about $100,000, Forshee advised board members to look over the budget and see where more costs can be saved,

“We all need to look at things, and see, ‘Why not take that out?'” said commission chairman Elliot Belgard. “Everything needs to be on the table.”

One small saving grace from the state is that the county will be exempt from some state sales taxes.