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Cost survey could increase revenue for Grundy County

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 8:47 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – Grundy County is considering a fee assessment and cost analysis survey that could raise thousands in revenue.

“This study isn’t just looking for a way to increase the fees,” said Ron Severson, Grundy County Board chairman. “It’s saying what our actual cost is and showing if we’re over or under.”

The survey would be implemented by Bellwether Advantage, an independent consulting company that has completed fee assessment surveys for several other counties in the state.

The Finance Committee met with Bruce DeLashmit from Bellwether to discuss the survey more in-depth at Monday’s finance meeting.

Bellwether would find exactly how much each department spends on its services and work with the county in updating their fees to match their actual costs. DeLashmit said most often, they find a county to be undercharging, but said there are some cases when a county may be charging too much for a particular service.

“They’re user fees so you’re not socking all of your residents and all of your taxpayers with those fees,” Grundy County Clerk Lana Phillips said. “You’re hitting the people who actually use those services.”

DeLashmit said typically – based on figures from previous surveys the company has completed – a county the size of Grundy can expect to gain as much as $250,000 in added revenue per year.

The survey would be done on a department basis. For a fee, Bellwether will review each department and provide the county with a preliminary cost analysis before the Finance Committee decides if they want to move forward with the complete survey.

“The most common departments that are going to have results are the clerk recorder and sheriff,” DeLashmit said.

The committee is interested in doing surveys for the clerk, sheriff and health departments.

DeLashmit said a complete study for those three departments could cost the county $25,000 or more.

The committee agreed to have DeLashmit submit a detailed proposal within the next few days so they are ready to vote on whether to move forward with the survey at next month’s finance meeting.

The county has used fee assessment surveys in the past with the most recent one being done in 2009 by Grundy County Auditor Tawnya Mack.

“It did help us and we raised some things, but what Bellwether does is much deeper,” Phillips said. “This was so all-encompassing. That’s what I liked about it.”

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