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Portage County budget will need more trimming


STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) - For local government leaders, late summer means refining the next year’s budget plan.

Portage County Executive Patty Dreier admits there is still work to do. Early in the process, Dreier says she was looking at a 1.3-million dollar shortfall, but there’s already some progress in balancing the 2014 budget. “I’ve got it somewhere between a six hundred and a seven hundred thousand dollar gap to continue to close. I don’t have any doubt that we’ll be able to do a very fine job of that, so we’re continuing to work through it.”

Dreier says they are getting more feedback from various county staff on how to save more money. “Dan Bemowski, who is a staff member in the Highway Department commented on how we need to do an even a better job of asking staff how else we can save money, how else we can do things better and smarter, and I’ve been following up on that.”

One of the bigger budget items for Portage County next year is an upgrade to their computer technology.

County Executive Patty Dreier says the county is investing in an enterprise resource software system that will cost about 1.4 million dollars.

She says the changed from the very old AS 400 system of twenty years ago is no small undertaking. “It’s massive. We’ve been working on this about a year and a half now so far, and it will be another year and a half before it’s all rolled out. This is the project that will convert our entire computer systems into more data-driven system, a more efficient system in Portage County to transition from the green screen, literally, that we still use, the AS 400 ancient obsolete system into the new world of information technology.”

The new system will be used for financial and other data resource management initially, and can be expanded to other county computer uses as well.

The County Executive has until October 3rd to finalize the budget. That’s when it will be presented to the Portage County Board of Supervisors.