County budget steady through third quarter

Chisago County Administrator Bruce Messelt presented the County Board with a fairly mundane third quarter budget update at the board’s regular meeting Nov. 7, and, according to him, boring is a good thing.

He explained to the board that the county’s general fund is running at about 84 percent of expectations, which is a solid level.

“Expenses are actually running favorable as well,” he said. “We’re 65 percent of budget versus 71 percent last year.”

However, he did note expenses for gasoline are running slightly higher than expected, as are charges for county cell phone usage.

He added the budget for payroll is running favorable and the county’s contingency fund is “very healthy” at a balance of over $1 million.

“Overall, the fund balance is pretty healthy at this time,” he said. “We’re running pretty good in the general fund.”

Next, Messelt addressed the county’s road and bridge fund.

“Operation expenses look pretty good,” he said. “We’re favorable overall with a fund balance of $4.6 million. That seems to be pretty healthy.”

But Messelt did draw attention to the need for the county to reduce expenditures in its engineering budget.

County Engineer Joe Triplett recently explained to the board money could be saved in that budget by hiring an assistant county engineer at a cost of $100,000.

At the Sept. 5 board meeting, Triplett told the board the county is spending about $150,000 a year by contracting engineering services, so by hiring another full-time employee, the county would actually save about $50,000 a year.

At that meeting, the board approved the suggestion.

The county will look to hire someone into the assistant county engineer position next year.

Messelt then addressed the health and human services budget.

“Overall, revenue is 73 percent of budget and expenses are 69 percent,” he said. “There are really no red flags here.”

He added that payroll — the county’s single largest expenditure — is favorable by about $400,000.

County Board Chairman George McMahon lauded the county’s finance department for the good work it has been doing in relation to the budget.

“There really isn’t much to report other than things are running pretty favorably,” Messelt said.

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