Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
The Washington County Board of Supervisors continues to hear funding requests each week leading into budget season.
“Seventeenth of January is when we view our non-departmentals,” Board Chair Richard Young said. “That’s when we collect them all together and make a decision budget-wise.”
The requests come against a backdrop of belt-tightening measures promised by county officials after granting sizable raises to all county personnel in late December.
Young said the biggest cuts would likely fall to organizations aided by the county rather than county departments.
“I’m talking non-departmental, not a county office, that come in here every year and present to us and ask for funding,” he said at a late December meeting. “I think that there’s some that we can start cutting. It’s not going to be a popular decision, but it’s what we were elected for. Sometimes we have to make hard decisions.”
The county’s need to cut costs doesn’t change the needs of those third-party groups, however. Numerous groups continue to make appeals to the county, including but hardly limited to Washington County Minibus ($50,000), Main Street Washington ($7,300) and the Washington Economic Development Group (approximately $30,000.)
The requests have a common theme: organizations say county dollars are essential to their work.
“We do want to reiterate how important your funding is to the libraries,” Kalona Library Director Trevor Sherping said in a joint funding request from every public library in the county. “You guys are the second largest source of funding for each library right after the city, you guys are absolutely crucial to what we do.”
Sherping said county funding was key to the libraries’ IT services, staff training and seminar travel, digital media collections and movie licenses. The libraries have requested $168,300 from the county.
Libraries are a special case according to Supervisor Jack Seward Jr., who said state code required a minimum county allocation to the institutions, but Washington County has in recent years gone beyond that amount.
Another big ticket funding request comes from the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, or HACAP. The group has requested $120,000 after a year in which it assisted 400 household improvements in the county and increased its food distribution efforts by 65% according to public records.
“We couldn’t do what we do out of our HACAP operations without the contribution that you give us,” a representative from the group said at a Jan. 11 supervisor meeting. “What we are asking for is a level of funding that we’ve had for several years.”