Balancing Service Levels and Planning for a Sustainable Future
COOK COUNTY, MINNESOTA - August 7, 2018 (LSN) Cook County is striving to make the complicated budget process as open and accessible to citizens as possible. At a special media briefing today, the Budget Committee and County Administration welcomed members of the media to discuss the upcoming budget process, goals and key factors that impact the budget, and welcomed all questions.
The Cook County Budget Committee and County Commissioners have been working with Departments for the past several months to review Departmental Budgets and the impact proposed budgets have on the tax levy.
After large increases in the 2018 property tax levy to balance the Budget, the County’s goals are to develop a sustainable budget with modest increases that support an appropriate service level and allow for financial planning for the future to avoid relying on fund balance.
“The Budget Committee is exploring all possible ways to keep the levy as low as possible, determine appropriate service levels, including those related to County roads, and maintain fund balance,” said Ginny Storlie, Chair - Cook County Board of Commissioners.
Major factors that influence the Budget include the cost of doing business and service delivery. The largest cost in Cook County is personnel who deliver critical services to residents – everything from public safety to road grading, child protection and financial assistance to recording vital documents and environmental programs. The largest percentages of the Budget go to:
- Streets & Highways
- Health & Human Services
- General Government Services, and
- Public Safety
Key Dates for Public Engagement
- Departmental budgets will be addressed at County Board Meetings on Aug. 14 and 21, and the Public Health & Human Services (PHHS) Budget will be reviewed at the PHHS Board Meeting Aug 28.
- District Town Hall Meetings will be scheduled between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15, 2018. Watch for more logistical details coming soon as dates and venues are confirmed. The County website will be updated regularly with all Budget info at: www.co.cook.mn.us/budget
- The Board will be setting the Preliminary Levy and setting a date for the Truth in Taxation meeting on Sept 25.
- A Final Levy and Budget needs to be approved before December 31.
Citizen representatives from each district were added to the Budget Committee this year to include more public input. The Budget Committee Members are:
- Jim Boyd
- Nick Burger
- Mike Carlson
- Hillary Freeman
- Liz Wagner
- Commissioner Ginny Storlie, Board Chair
- Commissioner Myron Bursheim
- County Administrator Jeff Cadwell, and
- County Auditor/Treasurer Braidy Powers
“Having interested and engaged members of the public on the Budget Committee has been valuable for all,” said Board Chair Storlie. “We welcome public engagement in the Budget process and encourage citizens to stay informed. The Committee is working to make this complex process as accessible as possible and make information available throughout. We are looking forward to the upcoming Town Hall Meetings and hopefully achieving our budget goals.”
Budget information including the calendar and key dates, draft budgets and more, can be found online as it becomes available at: www.co.cook.mn.us/budget