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Dave Olson, Published January 06 2010

Clay County money woes likely to linger

Clay County had a rough year financially in 2009, and the coming year doesn’t promise much better, said Jerry Waller, who presented the Clay County Commission’s state-of-the-county address on Tuesday.

Waller outlined the many cuts and policy changes the county made in 2009 to address unallotments imposed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The steps taken include:

Much of that is expected to continue in 2010 because it is almost certain more unallotments are coming from the state, Waller said.

“Clay County must be prepared to make additional cuts to the operating budgets as further reductions in state aids are implemented,” he said.He added that the county has put on hold any expansion and remodeling of the county jail, stating it is cheaper to house surplus prisoners in neighboring counties when the jail gets too crowded.

“In 2010 we will ensure that the existing jail facility continues to conform to the Department of Correction’s maintenance and safety standards,” Waller said.

This year and in coming years, he said, the county will work to secure state funding to help with buyouts and relocation of homes that are prone to flooding.

Waller said the county will also seek funding to fix roads damaged by flooding and to implement permanent flood protection around the county campus.

After a vote of commission members Tuesday, Waller passed the title of chairman to colleague Kevin Campbell.

Commissioners elected Jon Evert vice chairman.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555