Lee County Conservation Board budget

(Montrose, Ia.) Earlier this month the Lee County Conservation Board found out it had to cut $45,000 from its 2009-2010 fiscal year budget. Executive Director Tom Buckley said the board had two options - make cuts in several different areas, or cut a staff position. It decided to make some internal shifts and move the maintenance technician into another position. KHQA's Jarod Wells found out why.

Executive Director Tom Buckley said making cuts in several different areas would limit the publics opportunities to enjoy its parks. So it decided to move the maintenance technician, who is a 13-year employee, into a different position.

"I think any time you lose a permanent staff person it's a setback," said Buckley, "where you're not giving the public as much as you could give them, when you have both the experience of somebody there and the understanding, the familiarity they have with taking care of the areas."

The maintenance technician position will be filled by workers from the AmeriCorps program, but those workers can only stay in the position for two years. So that position will be like a revolving door from now on. And more cuts were still needed.

"We also still had to cut about another $10,000 out of the budget," said Buckley, "and, unfortunately, part of that was on an improvement we were planning for Pollmiller Park."

That improvement was going to be a two-phase project upgrading the electricity throughout the park. That project now will be put on hold for at least a year.

"I guess if you're trying to turn lemons into lemonade," said Buckley, "if we can make these adjustments this year and have a little foresight into the future, maybe we can get ourselves in a better position so we don't have to struggle much next year with any kind of cut."

Buckley said the board is looking to put a family cabin at Wilson Lake to raise more revenue. That would be paid for through a grant so it would not be an additional expense.

Buckley encourages people to continue to use the parks and conservation areas. He says the board will not shut anything down or decrease maintenance patrols. There may have to be a few new charges in some areas to make up for budget cuts, but Buckley hopes campers will understand the board's situation.