Rebuild Iowa Office budget trimmed - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rebuild Iowa Office budget trimmed

DES MOINES (RIO NEWS RELEASE) - General Ron Dardis, Executive Director of the Rebuild Iowa Office (RIO), has released his revised budget for the three-year life of the organization. The budget includes a number of revisions, including revised employee costs. This budget trims about $625,000 from the draft working document that was presented to legislators in early February, and requests just $48,000 in state funds for fiscal year 2009.

"As Executive Director, it is my job to ensure that all Iowans - especially those that are still recovering from last year's disasters - have confidence in the Rebuild Iowa Office to lead our disaster recovery efforts forward," said General Dardis. "That is why my first duty after assuming this role was to take a hard look at the budget and ensure we are managing disasters in a way that maximizes effectiveness while minimizing costs. I believe this budget accomplishes both of these goals. We have many challenges ahead in our rebuilding efforts, but with the support of Iowans, I am confident that we can complete our task and rebuild this state stronger and better than before."

On February 2nd, Governor Chet Culver signed legislation formally establishing the Rebuild Iowa Office, which had been created by executive order last year. The legislation, which passed unanimously in both the Iowa House and Senate, stipulated that the office will continue its work until June 30, 2011.

Three days later, Governor Culver named Gen. Dardis as Executive Director the Rebuild Iowa Office. One of his first tasks was to prepare a formal budget that would maximize federal funds while staying within the allowed uses of those funds. Previous preliminary budget estimates prepared by RIO showed more than $1.9 million in state expenditures over the life of the office. General Dardis, working closely with his staff, found savings to taxpayers totaling more than $625,000.

The revised $1.25 million budget proposal found savings in the following areas:

A significant reduction in projected overtime for RIO employees. Overtime will be approved only on a case-by-case basis.

A reduction in projected employee benefits each year. This includes health insurance, retirement, FICA, disability and life insurance. In the original draft budget, benefits were projected at a flat rate of 40 percent a year. Due to a better understanding of actual costs, the methodology is now based on annualized actual benefits paid and now reflects a rate of approximately 27 percent a year.

All projected salary increases, formerly drafted at 5 percent per year for employees, have been removed. No one at the RIO office makes a six-figure salary, nor was any employee funded by the RIO ever projected to make a six-figure salary. In the original draft budget, each employee's salary, projected overtime and projected employee benefits were added together. In the current budget, those figures have been broken out to provide further transparency.

The majority of funding for the Rebuild Iowa Office comes from a $3 million grant through the Economic Development Administration, which expires in June 2010.

The budget presented by General Dardis outlines the necessary funds to keep the recovery efforts of the office continuing through its final year, ending in June 2011, as authorized by the legislature. In addition, State funds are needed in FY 2009 and FY 2010 to support activities required in HF 64 which cannot be paid for with federal funds. These include reports to the legislature and staffing of the Coordinating Council.

Online Producer: Jason Mortvedt

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