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County close on cuts





After cutting approximately $1.5 million from departments' budgets, the Ellis County Commission neared a balanced budget at a special meeting Monday.

Approximately $76,800 remains in the shortfall, said Greg Sund, Ellis County administrator. He hopes to resolve the difference this week, and a special meeting will be scheduled to review the final proposal.

Representatives from the Ellis County Historical Society attended Monday's meeting and protested the cut to their allocation. Previous discussions proposed reducing the county's support $60,000, which is 30 percent of the group's overall budget.

The commissioners instead suggested setting the amount at $100,100, which is a $20,000 reduction from its 2012 allocation.

Wilbert Pfeifer, a founder of the society and volunteer, said the county could run the organization and help preserve the group's artifacts.

"We're now down to the nub where we're going to have to have professional help to go ahead, period. We can't do it with all volunteers," he said. "The operation has become too expensive, too big, and you've got resources over there that are unbelievable."

Commission Chairwoman Barbara Wasinger said it is not her wish to cut funding.

"If I had a magic wand, believe me, I would not cut any of you, any of them," Wasinger said. "It would be great to fully fund everything. I don't know what to tell you. We're working the best we can to do the best job we can."

Changing service hours at the courthouse to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and lowering the allowance for employee raises from 3 percent to 2 percent were ideas suggested. Scaling back the county clerk's election budget, reducing overtime and saving money from a retirement were other cost-saving measures.