As they begin writing next year’s budget, Linn County supervisors heard appeals Monday to continue support for libraries, corrections programs, the developmentally disabled, and legal help for low-income residents.
The comments came during a budget forum supervisors have scheduled the past several years to hear residents’ budget concerns early in the budget-writing process. The state-mandated budget hearing will be March 13, just two days before the county is required by law to adopt a budget for the fiscal year that starts next July 1.
“If you’re aware of a county program you think is a waste of money, you can say so,” Budget Director Dawn Jindrich told the dozen or so residents who attended Monday’s 40-minute meeting.
Instead, the three supervisors – Supervisors Brent Oleson, R-Marion, and John Harris, R-Palo, were absent – were thanked for county money, now $35,000 a year, funding Iowa Legal Aid’s Cedar Rapids office. Gary Hinzman, director of the 6th Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, asked them to continue the $15,000 annual funding for the AmeriCorps Each One Reach One program for another three years.
Three mothers asked supervisors, already coping with a state reorganization of programs and funding, to boost support for mental health and developmental disability (MHDD) programs their children use, especially sheltered workshops and vocational assistance.
“We’re hoping there will be a higher priority in the county to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves,” said Karen Kroeger of Marion.
“We are going backwards,” said JoEllen Marconi of Palo. “I’m just hoping to feel better about their future, because I’m really scared.”
“Building the budget for MHDD will be interesting,” said Supervisor Linda Langston, D-Cedar Rapids. “We are heading into a (service management) region, which is something entirely new.”
Myrt Bowers, director of the Witwer Senior Center, said she’s optimistic about efforts to find a new, larger senior center. She said she’ll tour some flood-damaged buildings, potential rebuilding candidates, Tuesday with Cedar Rapids officials.
“Those conversations (with the city) are leading us into, hopefully, a wonderful direction,” said Bowers. If a new center is developed, she said she’d ask supervisors to considering funding “whatever operating costs may be needed.”
The county’s current $119.2 million budget is down $10.5 million from the previous year as flood-recovery rebuilding projects have been completed.