Budget committee discusses increased county insurance costs

This chart shows the history of levy changes over the last five years in Wadena County. Courtesy Wadena County

The payroll increases related to insurance costs of $52,769 is a question the Wadena County budget committee will tackle before the final levy is set.

The 2021 general revenue budget expenditures was at $120,000 in the preliminary levy, which was planned to be paid for out of cash reserves, and is now at $172,769. The difference could still be paid for with the reserves, by moving or cutting funds in departments to balance the budget or leaving it unbalanced, according to Auditor Heather Olson.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated that the increase in insurance was going to be as much as what it is,” Olson said.

The costs will not “disappear” regardless of county employee’s open enrollment selections, as Olson said. The county will have actual instead of estimated numbers to work with this year though due to the timing of enrollment, according to County Coordinator Ryan Odden.

“This is one of them things where these surprises can pop up, maybe we’re lucky it’s not a lot more,” said Commissioner Jon Kangas.


In looking to rearrange funds, Commissioner Bill Stearns noted funds that departments have not yet used this year.

“If we went down line by line I’m sure every department has got some … that they aren’t going to spend this year and if we ask them not to spend it so that it isn’t like Christmas in [November], it’s been in the past departments go and spend their budget just because they’ve got it,” Stearns said.

The unused funds could be due to COVID-19 as services were not used as well as replacement items budgeted for and not purchased. Several departments also increased their revenue in 2020, including the county parks’ camping permits seeing an increase of $9,849 from the planned budget and an increase of $4,835 from 2019.

Olson also noted:

  • A decrease in the Kitchigami Library fund to $96,227 instead of $100,000.

  • Public Health and Road and Bridge departments possibly using their cash reserves for increased differences from the proposed levy.

  • An increase in Human Services’ insurance costs that is being checked.

The next budget committee is on Nov. 16.

Rebecca Mitchell started as a Digital Content Producer for the Post Bulletin in August 2022. She specializes in feature reporting as well as enhancing online articles. Readers can reach Rebecca at 507-285-7681 or
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