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County budget stands to lose more state aid this year

Dakota County has lost another $2.8 million in state revenue.

When the Minnesota Legislature completed its most recent session in May, it had fixed the state's current shortfall of close to $1 billion and expected $4.3 billion shortfall for the 2010-2011 biennium.

The fix cost Dakota County another $2.8 million for its adopted 2010 budget.

At its regular meeting this week, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners approved amending the budget to bring the budget back into balance.

The $2.8 million loss is being offset by not filling positions when vacancies occur, said finance director Matt Smith. It has meant increased caseloads, work backlogs, delayed projects and higher staff stress levels. There are about 70 positions that are not being filled.

The adopted Dakota County budget has already made adjustments for the lost of $4.9 million of state funds that had been part of the 2009 unallotments. When the Legislature approved the impact of those unallotments through the appropriations process in late May, it had no additional impact to the county, as the money had not been expected as part of the 2010 budget.

However, to fix the $1 billion shortfall, the Legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty reduced aid payments to counties by $52.5 million for 2010. The reduction came shortly after the governor's unallotments of $100 million to county programs for 2010-2011 that had been reduced by the governor and later approved by the Legislature.

Dakota County's share of this reduction was $2.64 million through the loss of Market Value Homestead credits paid by the state to the county as part of property tax collections. Additional loss of adult mental health grants and Sentence to Services subsidies brings the total impact of state reductions for the current 2010 budget to $2.8 million.

"In light of the continuing challenges of the state budget, Dakota County has continued to restrain hiring of positions when vacancies occur," said Smith. "As a result, savings have accrued during 2010 from positions that were either vacant at the start of the year and are not yet filled, or positions that have become vacant during the year and are not yet re-filled."