Haakon County Commissioners hit with bills for support of poor and mentally ill

A drastic increase in the number of bills for the support of the poor and mentally ill have caused the Haakon County Board of Commissioners to delve deeply into their contingency budget.

The Haakon County Commission was hit with several more bills for the support of the poor and the mentally ill at their Tuesday, September 3, meeting at the courthouse in Philip.

The commission has been receiving bills almost monthly for the two categories. By August they had already spent the budgeted $5,000 for the support of the poor and had to transfer another $2,500 in to the fund. After paying the July bills, just $267 was left in the account. A bill this month left just $17 in the account.

When the commission started taking some hard budget cuts in 2008 the account's budget dropped from $10,000 to $7,000. The budget for 2009 remained at $7,000, but the 2010 budget was dropped to $5,000. The county had received few, if any, bills during the previous years for the account.

The budget for the mentally ill also saw similar cuts. It was at $10,000 in 2007 and dropped to $5,000 in 2008. An increase of $3,000 was made for the 2009 budget for a total of $8,000. Last year the board cut the amount back down to $7,000 for 2010's budget.

Of that $7,000, $1,706 was left at the end of August. September's bills and those in the auditor's office that were unavailable for payment this month total $4,424. To take care of the deficit the board approved to transfer $2,750 from contingency to the mentally ill fund.

The board will have to take a long, hard look at the 2011 budget in these two accounts. The two accounts are hard to set budget amounts for because they can fluctuate widely from year to year. In the past several years there has not been much activity in the accounts and the board is unsure of the reason for this year's large increase. The names of the individuals are protected by state law and are not discussed at the meetings, nor are they published in the minutes.

Other accounts that had transfers included the courthouse building fund and the road and bridge fund. Lurz Plumbing submitted a bill for the outside sewer line that was completed in May. The board approved a transfer of $30,000 to cover a negative balance and the cost of warrants. Additional funds were added due to some possible upcoming bills. It had been discovered that a window was broken and will have to be replaced in the courthouse's "penthouse." The road and bridge fund received the remainder of its monies in the amount of $250,034.58 from the general fund.

Auditor Patricia Freeman informed the board that the South Dakota Municipal League had sent out a representative to canvas the county properties for possible injury hazards. He found that the courthouse's boiler was five years past an inspection date and some hazardous wires behind the judge's bench were found. Freeman noted she had contacted the state fire marshall's office regarding the boiler and an inspector will be here soon.

The commissioners approved for Mark Foley to hire Larry Hanes to fill in as county law enforcement during the weekends he is gone for South Dakota National Guard duty and another weekend he is off.

The board approved for the City of Philip to proceed with propane and electric lines from the city shop to the pool. Public Works Director Matt Reckling said he will bring in an easement request as soon as his department has mapped out their placement.

Haakon County Highway Superintendent Kenny Neville informed the board he had contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency and they had granted the county another two month extension on their road work. He noted that he had hired Dwight Slovek to fill the opening in the highway department.

West River/Lyman Jones was granted approval to grade and gravel a county section line near Ottumwa. The road leads to a storage tank and it will be built to county specifications.

The board approved pay raises for Carla Smith, deputy auditor, Kristin Martin, health nurse assistant, and Kevin Pfeifle, director of equalization.

The commissioners approved meeting minutes from August 3, 2010, August warrants, the appointment of Emily Kroetch to the library board, and a raffle request by Val Schulz, Kathy Gittings and Marlis Doud.

Lola Roseth, Haakon County emergency manager was granted approval to attend the state emergency convention in Hot Springs September 14, and for Register of Deeds Karyl Sandal to attend a passport refresher training in Pierre, October 7.

The commissioners spent the afternoon discussing the 2011 budget. The budget is to be finalized and approved by October 1.

The next regular meeting for the board of commissioners is Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.