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County proposes 5 percent levy hike

Hearing at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1

November 24, 2010
By Fritz Busch, Staff Writer

NEW ULM - Brown County Commissioners took a look at the proposed 2011 budget and levy Tuesday.

The proposed 2011 budget of $26,486,283 is 6.8 percent less than the $28,429,507 2010 adopted budget.

The 2011 certified levy of $11,427,170 2011 is a five percent hike over the 2010 certified levy.

The proposed budget has 15.6 percent ($1,772,691) less state and federal aid and 72.9 percent ($167,300) less investment interest.

"It's always levying (taxes) back or cutting services," Commissioner Jim Berg said.

County Administrator Chuck Enter said the smaller budget was due in part to a declining county population.

A public hearing for the proposed budget and levy will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010 in the Brown County District Courtroom.

The Brown County Assessor's Office (room 209) on the courthouse second floor will be staffed at 6 p.m. to answer any questions and explain property values and classifications.

The Brown County Auditor/Treasurers Office (room 206) will be staffed at 6 p.m. to address property tax questions.

Only county budget and levy questions will be heard at the public hearing.

The adoption of the final payable 2011 property tax levy and county budget will be considered at the Dec. 14, 2011 county board meeting.

Proposed 2011 county fee increases include $75 for false automatic alarms after 3 in a calendar year, $10 County Recorder's Office passport photo fee, $5 burning permits, hiking variances, conditional use and rezoning permits $20.

Drainage system annual fees would rise from $7,500 to $10,000 a year.

After reviewing fees and comparing them with neighboring counties, the Auditor/Treasurers' office estimates fee hikes could raise an additional $10,000 a year.

In a letter to Brown County Commissioners, Brown County Probation Director Les Schultz explained an $80.70 Driver Impact Panel Speaker Recognition Dinner expense.

Schultz wrote that offenders with DWIs and/or older adolescents with drinking and driving charges are required to attend the class at a $40-60 charge.

He added that the program generated $4,260 to date with $1,670 in expenses.

"Four out of five of our speakers suffered tragic personal losses in alcohol (related) crashes," Schultz wrote.

"Obtaining and maintaining speakers for this course is incredibly difficult. We need to recognize them on a regular basis to keep them engaged." he added.

Commissioners approved 2011:

Employment services contracts with Mankato Rehabilitative Center Inc. and Minnesota Valley Action Council for calendar year 2011.

Brown County Employment Counselor Jill Berglund said the area economy seems to be recovering with more jobs available.

She added that all job seekers must attend Wednesday and Friday workshops and are assigned job counselors.

A $340/day Brown County Evaluation Center detoxification service contract. A $20 daily hike reflects additional overhead costs formerly absorbed by the detention division.

Brown County detox numbers are down 10-20 percent from 2009.

A Sioux Trails Mental Health Contract formula lowering Brown County's cost from $201,877 to $195,800.39.

Outpatient/rehabilitative services unit cost billed to clients for providing services to reimbursement-eligible clients will be $150/hr. for licensed psychologists, $135/hr. for other licensed therapists and $215/hr. for psychiatric services, according to the contract.

OBRA evaluations billed to referring counties separately from listed outpatient maximum are billed at $400 each.

In 2010, Sioux Trails hired its first own full-time psychiatrist, expanded St. Peter clinic services and capacity, developed a structured testing/assessment program including parenting assessments and increased school-linked mental health program revenues and services.

A new, urgent care program began in partnership with Blue Earth County and the South Central community-Based Initiative.

The program reduces local hospital emergency admissions.

Goals for 2010 are to develop a formal therapist and nurse internship program, obtain new grants especially for a child psychiatrist and children's services, explore geriatric program potential, form new partnerships and offer new training services including a brown bag series.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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