County Budget Public Information Sessions Continue This Week
Aug 28, 2017 08:44PM
● By Editor
August 28, 2017 – Cook County will begin a series of public information sessions this week as the Board of Commissioners move toward setting the preliminary levy on Sept. 19.
Meetings to give residents an update on the County’s financial position, 2018 Budget assumptions and an opportunity to ask questions are scheduled as follows:
2018 Budget Public Town Hall Meetings
Mid Trail – Wednesday, Aug 30, 7 pm – Schapp Community Center – Gunflint Trail Fire Hall 1,
West End – Thursday, Aug 31, 7 pm – Birch Grove Gymnasium, 9 Goodneighbor Hill Rd, Tofte
East End – Thursday, Sept 7, 7 pm – Hovland Town Hall, 4957 E Highway 61, Hovland
Grand Marais – Monday, Sept 11, 7 pm – Cook County Courthouse, 411 W 2nd St
Countywide Financial Management Plan Presentation & Public Meeting – Monday, Sept 11, 6 pm, Cook County Courthouse, 411 W 2nd St, Grand Marais.
Setting the Budget is one of the most important decisions the Board of Commissioners makes. It directly impacts citizens through services and it’s a tool to realize the community’s goals. Each time you drive our roadways, a road is plowed, you call 911 or visit a library, community center or access child/family programs or the Courthouse, you are witnessing your tax dollars at work.
“Heading into the 2018 Budget discussion, we’re facing the same problem we did in 2017 and for the last several years - an unbalanced budget,” said Jeff Cadwell, County Administrator. “Cook County has been rolling a necessary increase for the last five years. This is not an easy position to be in - nobody wants to see levy increases, but the longer we set back levy increases, the larger these increases need to be to balance the budget and maintain services. We are reviewing financial management solutions to help address the issue and spread this out over the next three years to get to a new norm and better plan to not rely on the levy. We hope that citizens will come out and learn more about the budget and ask questions to understand where the County is at.”
Residents are encouraged to access the current draft budget documents on the County’s website at www.co.cook.mn.us/budget. Residents can also submit questions online that will be addressed at public meetings and answers made available throughout the budget process. A calendar with key budget dates including public input opportunities, preliminary levy deadline, Truth in Taxation meetings later this fall and the final budget deadlines are also available online or in hard copy through the Auditor’s Office at the Courthouse.
“Our number one priority is to balance the budget and maintain vital service level,” said Jan Sivertson, Board Chair. “This will require some tough choices, but if we do so now by setting a goal, sticking to it and work towards it over the next three years, we will have a long-term financial plan that is sustainable, plans for asset renewal and infrastructure, and opportunity to leverage funds rather than solely rely on the levy. As we head into the 2018 Budget process we are starting the conversation much sooner and want to engage citizens in these important decisions.”