3 percent county levy increase approved

Published 3:08 pm Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The public could soon feel the pinch of budgets.

The county board finalized a 3 percent levy increase and its 2011 budget Tuesday. The levy will mean a some residents will see a tax increase, and the county will look for more ways to cut costs. The 3 percent tax increase would set the county levy at about $15.5 million next year.

“We understand nobody likes paying taxes, and we’re working diligently on getting our budget under control,” said board chairman Ray Tucker.

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County resident Jim Hartson attended the meeting to tell the county board that taxes have already been raised enough.

“You’ve got to reach a point where you can’t raise taxes anymore,” he said.

With the public voicing concerns about taxes becoming more of a burden, the county plans to ease costs through staff reductions. That change will soon mean fewer deputies and slower snow plow services.

The county recently outlined a number of steps to reduce staff through attrition.

The public can expect it to take about 15 percent longer for roads to be plowed after a snowstorm, as the county board is recommending two highway department positions be reduced.

The county will continue funding the Senior Center at the current level, but the board is reducing the Historical Society’s allocation by 10 percent.

The board will likely reject a request for the Ag Society for $15,000.

The Soil and Water Conservation District is expected to see a decrease of $10,825 — 7.5 percent — in 2011.

The board plans to freeze the commissioners’ salary for 2011. The county plans to continue sponsoring the Sentenced to Serve program.

The county is proposing the auditor-treasurer’s office be reduced by one full-time staff member. Auditor-treasurer Doug Groh attended the county board meeting in an effort to keep the position in his office. He suggested the county board once again pursue making the recorder and auditor-treasurer positions appointed rather than elected.

The personnel committee will still examine all the budget reductions before each is final.

Department heads will have the opportunity to bring up concerns about proposed cuts.