Woodbury County tackles budget, makes hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
Woodbury County's budget was scrutinized for hours Tuesday.
Budget talks started off without a hitch. The board made a few small cuts here and there like cutting their own travel expenses by a few hundred dollars. But, the major cuts came when the sheriff's department went in front of the county's board of supervisors.
"You're never glad to cut because you feel the elected officials or department heads would come in with requests they need," Woodbury County Finance/Operations Controller Dennis Butler said.
Butler said the sheriff's proposed budget was $800,000 over what the county can fund, but the Sheriff says he knew the cuts were coming.
"I'm okay with all the things that took place," Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew said.
Through the course of the meeting with the sheriff and the board, they were able to agree on $670,000 worth of cuts including not hiring new correctional officers or new nurses and allowing for 6 new cars instead of 14.
The Sheriff said, "We understand that 14 cars is probably not something that's going to happen. I understand that the board has to make tough decision, but we have to have adequate staffing."
And, when it comes to staffing, the sheriff said he can't back down, because he feels the fight isn't over.
"Our fight will be over that 100-some-odd thousand dollars in overtime that would be straight time because I need to have the staff. You're either going to pay straight time in overtime," Sheriff Drew said.
Supervisor George Boykin said it's not easy making any cuts, but it has to be done to protect the taxpayers.
"It's very difficult to cut budgets, but it was very necessary" Boykin said.
The county's total budget is $51,000,000 and the county said it needs to cut about $450,000 more to balance the general basic fund. So, where do they go from here?
"I think we'll look at other departments and I also think that we probably, if necessary, if we don't get there to a minimum level of cutting, we'll go back to the sheriff again because he is asking for the highest budget amounts," Boykin said.
And, those looking out for taxpayers think the county is going in the right direction.
"I'm not completely doubtful that a lot of the cuts will be found. They may increase property taxes a little bit to help cover the costs of the actual salaries throughout the whole county, but overall, I don't see a huge tax increase coming down the line," Executive Director of the Taxpayers Research Council James Van Bruggen said.
But, there is still more work to be done inside the board room.
The supervisors will take up the budget at their regular board meeting next Tuesday.
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