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County begins to put final '11 budget together

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news Morris, 56267

Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

Stevens County's contribution to the Viking Library System, even without an increase this year, is vital since the system gets its most use during tough economic times like these.

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Viking Library System Director Peg Werner asked the county's Board of Commissioners to maintain its annual contribution of about $53,000 to help during a time when system resources are being used to their fullest.

The board made no decision, with chairman Don Munsterman telling Werner that commissioners would consider her presentation and request as 2011 budget discussions continue.

Historically, library use increases when people are having money troubles, Werner said.

Libraries in the five-county system are buzzing as the public seeks resources for job hunts, especially computer and wireless Internet access, and max out facilities' broadband. Libraries also see an increase in people and families just "hanging out" to read newspapers, books and magazines, she said.

Libraries are receiving Legacy funding from the state - Viking is set to receive about $100,000 - but are still forced to reduce staff and hours to cut expenditures.

"The amount of work we do is tremendous, but we also know there's no funding," Werner said. "By cutting corners every single way we can, we can keep costs down."

In other county business:

• The board will meet in a work session Aug. 24 to continue 2011 budget discussions. The commissioners reviewed updated budget figures on Tuesday.

The county is expected to receive an additional $71,000 in County Program Aid than it previously budgeted for. That would increase the county's CPA to $772,000 and reduce its reserve spend-down from about $233,000 to about $163,000.

To offset tightening budgets, the county is planning to increase its levy by about $443,000.

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