County budget plan will trim staff, projects
Marathon County administrator Lance Leonhard on Tuesday told the Human Resources, Finance and Property Committee said he planed to reduce staff costs, minimize travel and training, save money in county projects and reduce inmate housing to help deal with a sharp drop in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leonhard said the anticipated savings, $2.45 million, would fill about half of the $5.2 million shortfall expected in 2020.
The administrator said the personnel savings would largely be accomplished through not filling vacancies as they occur. In his plan, Leonhard does not specify departments where savings will be realized. He did note, however, that the county could save an additional $55,000 by not funding non-for profit agencies, such as the United Way, and another $79,000 by not provide Start Right with full funding.
Committee members called on Leonhard to proceed with the plan while providing committee members with monthly updates as to how it is working out.
Committee chairman John Robinson, Wausau, said he agreed with the partial cut to Start Right funding, but questioned taking money away from non-for-profit agencies, such as United Way, which has provided needed human services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In their absence, we would see more demands for services from us,” he said.
Robinson said the 211 emergency phone line run by United Way has been important for people to get information about the pandemic. He said he would hate to see funding get cut for an Entrepreneurial Boot Camp when the county will need start-up businesses to employ people once the pandemic ends.
Leonhard reported the county expects to see its sales tax revenue fall by $1.9 million below budgeted expectations in 2020.