Officials take a look at the county budget for next year

WILLMAR -- The roof is leaky, the insulation is wet and ceiling tiles are falling down in the building where the Kandiyohi County rescue squad stores its equipment and its crews are trained.

WILLMAR -- The roof is leaky, the insulation is wet and ceiling tiles are falling down in the building where the Kandiyohi County rescue squad stores its equipment and its crews are trained.

On top of that, the foundation is cracked, the wiring is poor and water pipes freeze in the winter.

The building, located on the east side of Willmar off U.S. Highway 12 near the Humane Society's current facility, isn't much to look at from the outside either.

Given the current condition of the 50-year-old building, the Kandiyohi County Commissioners are exploring options to build a new facility for the rescue squad.

During a work session Monday on the 2008 budget and levy, the County Board of Commissioners discussed putting money in next year's budget to build up the fund for possible construction in 2009 or 2010.


County Administrator Larry Kleindl said he intends to propose putting $100,000 into the 2008 budget for the project.

Don Ericson, Kandiyohi County emergency management director, said if a new structure is built he'd like it to be big enough to last for 40 to 50 years.

Kleindl said he and Ericson looked at purchasing the former Kandiyohi Power Cooperative building on the north end of town for the rescue squad, but determined the building wouldn't meet the county's needs.

Ericson also said most of the crew members live in the "heart" of Willmar and they like the current location of the rescue squad building. The commissioners discussed the possibility of building a new facility on the existing site.

The need for a new rescue squad building was just one of many needs the commissioners heard about Monday as they took their first look at the proposed $55 million budget. As it stands now, the proposed levy would be around $23.7 million, or about a 4.3 percent increase from 2007.

If the proposed levy is approved, it would be under the limit for requiring a Truth-in-Taxation hearing.

This is the first budget that Kleindl has prepared for the county since taking over the job from former administrator Wayne Thompson, who had been with the county for 30 years.

The commissioners may opt to increase or decrease the line items in the budget.


Kleindl will find out Wednesday morning how much of an increase the county will have for insurance costs, which could also result in budget changes.

During the six-hour work session Monday, various department heads spoke to the commissioners about their proposed 2008 budgets. Most department heads have proposed cuts in some areas and increases in others.

Some of the budget requests that will be considered include codifying the ordinances to make them easier to access; improving the county parks, planning for major disasters and planning for the county's 150th anniversary in 2008.

There is also a list of requested equipment, such as a flotation sled that can be safely taken on mushy ice to rescue people, body armor for deputies and road graders for the highway department.

Through the budget discussions and explanation for financial needs, the commissioners learned that the Sheriff's Department has to order ammunition for its M-16 weapons a year in advance because the war in Iraq has resulted in a shortage, and that the Public Health Department has made great strides to improve health in the county by offering clinics for refugees on Fridays.

The commissioners will resume their budget discussions Wednesday afternoon.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
What To Read Next
Get Local