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Meeker County Board of Commissioners approves budget and levy for next year

LITCHFIELD -- The Meeker County Board of Commissioners gave final approval this week to a $25.4 million budget.

The 2010 budget is a decrease of 1.6 percent from last year.

The $408,541 in savings comes from having at least five fewer full-time equivalent positions.

Employees made concessions and there is no cost-of-living increase for elected officials, including the county board members.

The certified net levy of $11,913,766 is a 6.9 percent increase over last year.

The levy increase is needed to pay for equipment for a new 800-megahertz emergency radio system.

This week the commissioners agreed to purchase $2.7 million worth of equipment from Motorola, including $1.8 million for a new dispatch console.

The purchase includes the "backbone" of the Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response system, known as ARMER, as well as communication equipment for all the emergency organizations in the county, County Administrator Paul Virnig said.

The county is expected to obtain a $2.5 million bond in January to pay for the equipment.

The commissioners signed an agreement in September of 2007 to participate in ARMER. "The board has been thinking about this for some time," Virnig said.

The age of the county's current dispatch equipment, and a $400,000 incentive from Motorola to purchase the new equipment, made it attractive to implement the radio plan now, he said. Because a growing number of neighboring counties are also joining the 800-megahertz network, Virnig said Meeker County needed to invest in the new technology in order to communicate with other entities while responding to emergencies.

"That made that decision a little easier for us," he said.

The new system is expected to be operational in Meeker County in September.

In other action:

- The commissioners appointed Dr. Quinn Strobl as medical examiner. Dr. Janis Amatuzio, who is the current medical examiner, plans to retire. The county contracts with Anoka County for the service.

- Braden Priam was appointed as park superintendent, effective Jan. 1.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750