The Scott County Board approved a $73.7 million budget for fiscal year 2010 on Tuesday with a plan in place to reduce funding to several mental health programs, if necessary.

The budget is a 1.2 percent increase from the fiscal year 2009 budget of $72.85 million but shows a 15 percent fund balance. County Administrator Dee Bruemmer pledged to save $1 million heading into the 2011 fiscal year.

“The budget in my judgment has been pretty good this year,” County Board Chairman Jim Hancock said. “Over two years, our tax rate has been reduced two cents —- a 16-cent reduction last year and a 14-cent increase this year.”

The mental health and developmental disability budget is $15.71 million, but community services director Lori Elam said federal funding for Medicaid in the federal stimulus package passed last month by Congress will ease some of the pain. At minimum, a cut of 6.5 percent to mental health funding is expected at the state level.

“The county is hopeful that these cuts won’t have to be made at this time,” Elam said. “The stimulus package is lowering the amount the county has to pay, but that is contingent with what the state does.”

The first cut to mental health funding will be planned inflationary increases to Vera French Community Mental Health Center and Handicapped Development Group, totaling $126,782. Those cuts would be $119,942 to Vera French and $6,840 to HDC. An advisory board recommended $1.3 million in possible cuts.

The largest part of the county budget is public safety and legal services, totaling $21.09 million, which includes the sheriff’s department. The sheriff proposed a fee increase in inmate room and board from $10 to $25 per day in order to hire a laundry officer for the jail.

Hancock praised the sheriff’s effort to keep costs down and also pointed out that all the county elected officials —- supervisors, county attorney, auditor, treasurer, recorder and treasurer — approved a pay freeze for the 2010 fiscal year.

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