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Floyd County Supervisors looking at reducing pay increases, trimming department budget increases, cutting outside group grants

Floyd County Supervisors looking at reducing pay increases, trimming department budget increases, cutting outside group grants
Latest proposed funding levels for outside groups by the Floyd County Board of Supervisors.
By Bob Steenson,

The Floyd County Board of Supervisors spent another three hours Monday morning agonizing over ways to trim the county budget and keep county property tax increases to a minimum in light of higher county law enforcement center construction costs.

At its Monday morning workshop meeting, the supervisors tentatively decided to reduce all county pay increases where possible from an earlier suggested 2.5% increase to a 1.5% pay increase.

They also looked at reducing various department budgets, cutting further into funding grants requested by various organizations, and re-examining current year department budgets for any funds that aren’t being spent.

Some pay rates are beyond the board’s control. For example, secondary road employees are under a union contract, and that contract has already been approved for a 2.5% increase next fiscal year. In fact, that 2.5% was the basis for the supervisors earlier advising departments to plan their budgets with 2.5% pay increases.

Also, elected officials’ salaries are set based on recommendations by a county compensation board, which recommended 1.5% pay increases for elected officials. Department deputies are paid a percentage of the elected official’s salary, so their increase will already be no higher than 1.5%.

And some departments are overseen by their own boards. For example, Floyd County Public Health is overseen by the Floyd County Board of Health, and County Conservation is overseen by the Floyd County Conservation Board.

The supervisors decide how much county money those departments will get, but cannot have a precise impact on how it is spent.

Both those departments — Public Health and Conservation — had proposed pay increases for some members that were significantly higher than the 2.5% that supervisors has earlier suggested.

Public Health Administrator Gail Arjes had budgeted 5% pay increases for all her staff and for herself because of the extra work required and the onerous conditions dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conservation Director Adam Sears had budgeted double-digit increases for some of his staff, saying they were being paid well below what comparable positions were paying in other counties.

For both those departments, the supervisors are considering cutting their budget increase by an amount that would be equal to giving just a 1.5% pay increase to all department employees.

That reduction in the increase would be $23,000 for Public health and $10,000 for Conservation.

Supervisors acknowledged that those departments’ respective governing boards could approve the pay increases anyway, but then would have to make cuts in other areas.

Supervisor Linda Tjaden made the point several times during the meetings that county boards need to have a better understanding of the impact of their budget decisions on the county budget as a whole.

She also said she recognized that Public Health has been greatly affected in dealing with COVID-19, but was concerned that an increase in pay built those increases in for as long as those employees work there, rather than giving one-time extra compensation for dealing with the pandemic.

The supervisors are also proposing reducing the amount of increase in the Sheriff’s Department budget, by $125,000 between the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year.

The Sheriff’s Department proposed fiscal year 2022 budget would increase from the current $1.934 million to $2.192 million, an increase of 11%. Much of that is due to the addition of two additional jailers, from the current seven to nine, and wage increases to start bringing the jailers up to the pay level of dispatchers, who have joined the county staff.

Sheriff Jeff Crooks has said the new county jail in the Floyd County Law Enforcement Center, set to open in the next couple of months, cannot safely operate without nine jailers to fill the shifts required 24 hours a day, every day.

Supervisors said it would be up to Crooks to decide where to set his priorities and where to spend less if they approve trimming his budget increase.

The supervisors also went through the list of funding requests by outside organizations, and proposed further cuts there. The groups facing deeper funding cuts than the supervisors previously discussed are:

  • TLC: The Learning Center — originally requested $150,000 to help the child care center move to a new location in the North Grand Building; supervisors had originally proposed funding $25,000; now proposing $5,000
  • Floyd County Fair Buildings — had requested $50,000 to help complete construction to recover from 2019 Memorial Day tornado; originally proposed funding $25,000; now proposing zero.
  • Save the Depot — had requested $25,000 to help relocate the Milwaukee Road railroad depot; had originally proposed $5,000; now proposing zero.
  • Foster Grandparents — requested $2,500; originally proposed $2,500; now proposing $1,000.
  • Charles City Chamber of Commerce — had requested $3,525; originally proposed granting $1,500; now proposing becoming a member of the Chamber, $79.
  • Community Revitalization — requested $6,000; originally proposed granting $5,000; now proposing $1,000.
  • Healthy Harvest — requested $2,750; originally proposed $1,000; now proposing zero.