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story.lead_photo.caption The Cole County Courthouse is shown in this Sept. 15, 2016 file photo. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

The Cole County Commission has begun looking at potential budget needs for 2020.

During a meeting Wednesday morning with County Auditor Kristen Berhorst, commissioners went through some items that have already been discussed among heads of departments the commission has direct control over.

Berhorst is required to submit her proposed budget by Nov. 15, but she said she plans to submit it at the commission's regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 12.

The commission has to approve the budget by Jan. 10 of each year (unless there is a commissioner who starts a new term of office, in which case they have until Jan. 30).

Berhorst asked commissioners for Wednesday's meeting as a way to help gauge what they feel are important issues that need to be dealt with in the upcoming budget.

In January, the commission passed the county budget for 2019, which grew by more than $3 million compared to 2018.

The final budget was $86.9 million, which includes money carried forward from 2018. The 2018 budget was $83.6 million.

Berhorst had proposed a budget of $88.4 million.

Berhorst projected little, if any, growth in revenue from sales tax collections for the 2019 budget.

Almost two-thirds (65.8 percent) of the county's revenue is coming from some type of tax.

Among items discussed Wednesday was potentially adding personnel, which Berhorst said many departments have indicated they'll ask for.

In the Cole County Health Department, Director Kristi Campbell said she plans to ask for an additional three staff members, with the highest priority being a health educator to go to schools and teach and give seminars on prevention of various diseases. She noted the county's rates of sexually transmitted diseases and drug use show there is a need for more prevention efforts.

Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle said his top priority would be to find a way to give a pay raise for county employees in next year's budget.

Berhorst added, in the past, the commission has tried to take care of the personnel they had in place at the time and then consider if more personnel could be added.

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