Editorial: Spending reservies is a good decision

Published 11:13 am Friday, December 14, 2012

It’s been a rough year for many local business owners in Mower County, between commercial property value increases and another property tax hike, not to mention the recession the country is still digging out of. So while some may equate spending reserves to reduce the county’s tax levy as kicking the can down the road, we see it as a good use of money that was the taxpayers’ to begin with.

The county commissioners approved a plan Thursday, by a slim 3-2 vote, to reduce the county tax levy from 9.03 percent to 6.03 percent by using $500,000 in reserves next year and $1.5 million over the next five years (See “County OKs plan to use $500K for 2013 tax relief”). Considering they started with an 11.53 percent increase, a 6 percent jump in county taxes seems much more manageable.

Commissioners Mike Ankeny, Jerry Reinartz and Tony Bennett all voted for the plan, while Commissioners Ray Tucker and Tim Gabrielson did not. Gabrielson sayid it puts the county in danger because of potential funding cuts from the state, the looming fiscal cliff or crime rates driving up law enforcement costs in years to come. While it’s true uncertainty is always there in future budgets — and that may be more true now than in years past — we say spending reserves helps solve a problem that’s happening right now.

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The county has $13.3 million in reserves, and while some of it is earmarked for one-time projects like the Government Center remodel (using reserves for that project is another wise decision, by the way), the rest is just sitting there waiting for a rainy day. The problem is, it’s raining now.

We commend the three commissioners who voted to spend reserves, and business owners should do the same. Constituents of Commissioners Gabrielson and Tucker should let them know their vote was the wrong one.