Gabrielson eyeing county’s budget issues

Published 7:28 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tim Gabrielson won his re-election bid for his District 1 seat on the county board, but the commissioner was looking ahead rather than celebrating Tuesday night.

In his second term, Gabrielson and the rest of the board have a number of budget issues to address. As the last precincts were filtering in after 1 a.m., Gabrielson was closely watching the District 2 race between Polly Glynn and incumbent Ray Tucker.

Gabrielson was pulling for Tucker due to his experience and expertise on the board.

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“We have a big job to do, and we need all the help we can get,” Gabrielson said.

The county is currently grappling with a potential 11.5 percent levy increase for 2013, but a number of factors are driving the county’s budget issues.

“It’s a huge job given the economy,” he said.

Those challenges are another reason experience is needed on the board, according to Gabrielson.

“It’s just not a pretty picture, and to me that’s a reason we have to have experience on the board,” he said.

Gabrielson said it’s commissioners’ job is to manage the county’s money and keep taxes low, but that’s been no easy task in recent years.

The struggling economy, Gabrielson said, only increases the demands on Human Services.

Out of home placements have continued to drive up costs in Human Services, and Gabrielson said it’s something county can’t keep sustaining at the current level.

“We’re looking for all sorts of ways to see what we can do to change that,” Gabrielson said.

Mower and other counties are also dealing with less and less money from the state government to pay for mandated services, and Gabrielson said he is looking to meet with officials from nearby counties in December to discuss ways to address budget issues.

“We have to look somehow to get the state to control their spending and be responsible for their portion of what we are mandated to do,” he said.

Gabrielson said the challenges for the county’s finances can be daunting since the county has few ways to raise money, aside from taxes, adding windmills or adding new businesses.

The county has money set aside to support significant businesses moving to town, if such a situation would arise.

“Other than that, I don’t see any big ray of sunshine that we can really work off of,” Gabrielson said.

Gabrielson hopes the people of the county are active in helping the board move forward, and he said he’s working to be open to input from constituents.

“I’m totally open for any suggestions — I want to hear them all,” he said.

As the commissioners continue addressing funding issues, Gabrielson will have more time for county business. Gabrielson retired as an insurance agent last Friday, and he recently completed a sale of his insurance agency back to Farmer’s Insurance.

Gabrielson had planned the retirement since July 31, regardless of the results of the election.

“To do the job I wanted to do, I had to have more time,” he said, adding he would have focused on other things had he lost.

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