NTF worksheet: douglascounty65.doc. 3-19.

Good morning. Doug Kagan, 416 South 130 Street, representing NE Taxpayers for Freedom. You are discussing today an $11.4 million budget adjustment. We call it a budget increase. Granted, several of these increased costs, such as higher autopsy expenses, are unavoidable and other expenses were anticipated. Nonetheless, we believe commissioners have been overly generous on employee contracts, which constitute a sizable percentage of this “adjustment.” Also, the county is facing a large, new expense for its justice center expansion and what we consider an extravagant plan for a new juvenile justice center. Several items included in this increase we see frequently, e.g., the Sheriff’s Department and the Health Center. Our taxpayer group repeatedly has questioned the board why it has not implemented reforms suggested for the Health Center by Health Management Associates several years ago. Likewise, we continually have requested commissioners to consider ending non-mandated services such as the law library and dental clinics.

This year, this board inevitably will present county taxpayers with reasons why our county property taxes must rise. Taxpayers expect you all to make a good faith effort to justify this tax hike. It is time for commissioners to break out the boning knives and begin to carve away non-necessities from the county budget. Several commissioners have diminished the political capital they earned in the past with our organization. You can gain it back by working with us to thoroughly scrutinize county budgetary expenses and find places to cut.

Thank you.
Presentation by Douglas County CFO Joe Lorenz at this meeting:
This presentation is the first of two during the fiscal year. Of the $11.4 million total sum, $6 million pays for the MUD justice expansion project. However, the Public Building Commission will refund this money after its bonds floated. Much of the total sum paid for by revenue offsets of $942,941. Therefore, the total sum of new spending is only $4.45 million, or a 1% increase. Much of this sum pays for overtime at the Corrections Dept., the IRS settlement, a huge workers compensation claim, county attorney autopsies, state institution competency evaluations, and an emergency management upgrade project. Also, $3.88 million in salary adjustments. Salary hikes for the Corrections Dept. (46%) and Health Center (32%) total 78% of the total salary adjustments. Retroactive pay totaled $1 million. The county reserve fund will become flush with $30-$40 million because of April property tax revenues incoming.
Commissioner Marc Kraft: Non-mandated services pay for themselves in savings for other departments. The county will require additional costs for several years.

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