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County levy may rise 3.88 percent; sheriff requests CAD funding

Mavis Fodness

Commissioners set the Rock County preliminary levy at 3.88 percent during action taken at their Sept. 22 meeting.
The increase means an additional $194,145 from taxpayers in 2016.
“We don’t have a choice in a lot of things,” said Commissioner Stan Williamson.
Two areas prompted the commissioners to increase the amount.
The first involved a request from Southwest Health and Human Services (SWHHS) governing board for $62,723, primarily for staff wages in 2016.
This increase comes after several years of little to no increases for their public health and social services to the county, Williamson said.
The second area for the levy increase involves the commissioners’ goal to keep an adequate amount of funds in reserve.
For 2016 commissioners more than doubled the county’s reserve amount to $105,000, up from $48,212 in 2015.
The Sept. 22 action sets the preliminary levy, which may be lowered between now and December when the levy is certified. The levy cannot be set higher than the preliminary amount set in September.
Sheriff requests additional $30,000 for CAD software
Commissioners tabled action on Sheriff Evan Verbrugge’s request to increase his 2016 budget by $30,000 to $717,013 for 2016.
The additional monies would pay for the annual software and service for computers or computer-aided dispatch (CAD) in his department’s squad cars.
“We are a technology world for law enforcement,” Verbrugge said.
Only Rock and Lincoln counties haven’t made the switch to CAD, Verbrugge said.
Currently his deputies on patrol rely on dispatchers to look up information on the computer and relay that information back to them.
Verbrugge wants officers to have that access from their cars and the ability to complete some paperwork without coming back to the Luverne office. He said computers in the cars would save time for his 10 officers.
However, Verbrugge didn’t know how many minutes or hours each officer could save, if any.
“It’s nice for officer safety and it’s nice for when you go on civil process and serve papers. You just pop up that person’s information,” he said.
The $30,000 would be an annual expenditure. An additional $155,000 would pay for the initial CAD installation and up to $50,000 for hardware.
However, Verbrugge told commissioners a full-time officer might be a better option than implementing the full CAD system in 2016.
“I would take people over new equipment any day,” he said.
Commissioners referred the matter to their personnel and budget committee.
Commissioners approve $1,200 to veteran groups
Each of Rock County’s four military service organizations will receive $300 in 2016.
The monies will help defray expenses of Memorial Day ceremonies, as stipulated in state statute.
Receiving the funds are the Rock County VFW and the American Legions of Luverne, Hardwick and Hills.

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