MARSHALL - Members of the Lyon County Board went through budget proposals from several county departments during a special meeting Tuesday morning. Questions about possible budget increases in areas including county parks prompted most of the discussion.
County budget discussions will continue in the next two weeks. The county has until Sept. 15 to adopt a preliminary budget and property tax levy for 2013. The preliminary levy can be lowered but not increased.
Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg presented county commissioners with a proposed preliminary budget at Tuesday's meeting. The proposal included a preliminary levy of about $12.4 million, an increase of about 2.1 percent from 2012. The county levy has stayed at about $12.1 million since 2008.
"State aid is down about $200,000, so that does affect our bottom line" for the 2013 budget, Stomberg said.
In reviewing the proposed budget, county commissioners spent some time discussing the 2013 parks budget. The proposed budget was more than $500,000, a steep increase from the current budget. Some of the projects that would be funded under the increase included facilities improvements at the county fairgrounds and Garvin Park, as well as development at Twin Lakes Park, said Carol Oakland of Lyon County Public Works. The Twin Lakes Park developments included installation of signs, culverts, fire pits and electrical hookups for campsites.
Stomberg and some county board members questioned whether it would be feasible for Public Works to complete all the proposed projects in one year, especially with other road and bridge projects to complete.
"It's a very ambitious program for one year," said County Board Chairman Bob Fenske.
"We need to prioritize," said Commissioner Steve Ritter.
County commissioners also discussed topics including possible options for replacing law enforcement vehicles and vehicles in the county pool and possible increases in the county law enforcement and Veterans Services departments.
The sheriff's budget included a proposed increase of about $95,000 over 2012. If possible, Lyon County Sheriff Mark Mather said, he would like to be able to hire a court deputy. Manpower continues to be a challenge for county law enforcement, he said. The sheriff's department has been operating with the same number of full-time deputies for the past 12 years, while at the same time taking on more responsibilities.
The budget proposal for county Veterans Services was also up from 2012, by about $60,000. Stomberg said part of the reason for the increase would be to cover fuel and maintenance costs for the county's new veteran transport van. Other VSO requests included $3,600 for an internship program, and $15,000 in matching funds for local outreach events and programs, said Veterans Services Officer Terry Wing. While more people have been making use of county services, Wing said outreach continues to be important.
"We are reaching about one-third of the veteran population in the county right now," Wing said. He said he would also like for the VSO to help better meet needs for mental health services for veterans and their families. One way to do that would be to form local peer groups, which could offer support in addition to counseling, he said.