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Stevens Co. Commissioners look to trim 8.22 percent levy increase

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news Morris, 56267
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

MORRIS - The Stevens County Board of Commissioners are looking to cut salary increases for some county employees and elected officials and not add some new county staff in order to decrease their 2013 levy.

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During a budget discussion on Wednesday, Dec. 5, Commissioner Ron Staples presented a list of 14 potential changes to the 2013 budget, including cutting back salary increases for department heads, non-union employees and elected officials from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent.

Staples proposals would also eliminate additional salary increase requests of about $12,500 from County Auditor/Treasurer Neil Wiese, $5,000 from County Recorder Virginia Mahoney, and $7,500 from Sheriff Randy Willis.

Both Wiese and Mahoney argued for their salary increases during presentations from elected officials in November. During his presentation, Wiese argued that the proposed salary increase is needed to bring his salary in line with the salaries of other auditors and auditor/treasurers in the region.

Mahoney also argued that her proposed increase is based on her increased responsibilities based on other local recorders, and to align her salary with other Stevens County employees.

Willis did not make a presentation to the board discussing his salary request.

The current council budget for 2013 has a proposed levy increase of 8.22 percent. Total county expenses are about $13.3 million, a 7.1 percent increase over the final budget for 2012. The budget also includes about $6.6 million in revenues, a 4.9 percent increase over 2012.

An anticipated cut in County Program Aid, from about $695,000 in 2012 down to $516,200 in 2013, accounts for nearly 37 percent of the proposed levy increase.

Staples also proposed cutting an additional IT staff member for a savings of about $55,000, as well as other small cuts to allocations and other budget lines. The board directed County Coordinator Brian Giese to look into the impact the proposed cuts would have to present at a work session on Friday, Dec. 14 at 1:30 p.m.

The board anticipates passing a final budget at their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

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Kim Ukura has served as the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune since August 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2008 with degrees in English and journalism. She earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2010. Prior to returning to Morris to work at the Sun Tribune, she worked in trade publishing. 
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