Douglas County Commissioners look at potential budget cuts for non-mandated services

Some county services could be facing cuts
Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 5:24 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Not many people were in attendance when Douglas County Commissioners passed a budget for more than a half-billion dollars Tuesday.

Douglas County officials say they will take a hard look at non-mandated county services in the future. One example is the Douglas County Health Center. Officials say not all of the services provided there are mandated.

Doug Kagan heads Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom - a taxpayer watchdog group. His organization thinks the health center should eliminate some services duplicated by other medical facilities in the community.

“Service only subsidized patients the county must legally serve, close assistant living facilities which numerous private entities currently provide, close the nursing home section,” Kagan said.

County officials say there’s not enough money coming to continue to fund all the non-mandated services, so tough decisions will have to be made in the future.

“Those 56 mandated services that we provide are not on the table,” said Douglas County Commissioner Mike Friend. “So guess what we do, we go back and we find the 22 non-mandated services. The ones the feds and the state say don’t worry about it, it’s up to you, and we start slashing and burning.”

“We have all these non-mandated services that we’re funding,” said Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson. “Let’s take a look at them. Are those non-mandated services really saving the county money, or are they costing the county money?”

County officials say all non-mandated services need to be closely examined. The County Health Center is just one example.

“One of those happens to be the health center. Not all of it’s mandated. But there’s an awful lot of people that find value in that institution in Douglas County.”

“They do serve indigent people and you don’t want to throw those people out in the street.”

Commissioner Mike Friend co-chairs the finance committee. He says more taxpayers need to fill seats and give commissioners their opinions on the future of non-mandated services in the county.

“I think what it boils down to is what the citizens of Douglas County want and what we can actually afford practically to pay for.”

NebraskaTtaxpayers for Freedom says a couple of other examples of non-mandated county services include the County Extension Service and the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging.

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