Eliminating Offices on Hall County Ballot - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Eliminating Offices on Hall County Ballot

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Voters in two of the state's largest counties have proposals on the ballot to merge government services.

Like Douglas County, Hall County wants to combine the Assessor and Register of Deeds.

They're following the path made by Lancaster County a decade ago.

But some dismiss that as a bad idea, Hall County Register of Deeds Mitch Clark said, "There just isn't any other county that's ever proved merging departments has saved money. In fact, only county that's tried it was Lancaster County, Lincoln, which is five times as big as us and it increased costs by doing so."

Those supporting the merger point out the vast majority of Nebraska counties have already taken this step.

Hall County Board Chair Pam Lancaster said, "This isn't something that hasn't been done. All other counties that have register of deeds combined with another elected official, some have 2, 3, 4 other responsibilities."

Lancaster says only 17 of Nebraska's 93 counties have not combined these offices.

Downsizing government is a thorny issue in Hall County, with a proposal to eliminate the Weed Board also on the ballot.

During annual budget talks, Hall County cut funds to spray weeds and eliminated all but one employee in the weed department.

Pam Lancaster said, "County board decided that public sector could take care of spraying responsibility, it was not something government needed to do. We spend 53 percent of budget just looking after public safety."

The money's been cut, now they want to cut the five–man board that oversees the weed department.

But some fear it will cause more weed problems in rural areas.

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