County to discuss potential tax hike

Published 10:59 am Monday, September 9, 2013

The county board will soon have an idea of how much county property taxes could increase by in 2014.

The county board will set its maximum 2014 tax levy increase during its regular board meeting, which begins with a department report by Coordinator Craig Oscarson at 8:30 a.m. and general business at 9:30 a.m.

The board is facing challenges in planning its 2014 budget, as requests for new positions are likely to be expensive.

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At the board’s Aug. 27 meeting, commissioners said there are 14 requests for new employees from department heads — nine from Human Services.

The request for nine positions in Human Services comes as no surprise. In June, the county board unanimously voted against joining a service delivery authority that would merge the department with Steele, Dodge and Waseca counties, largely because of the $1 million cost to move onto the next phase.

Human Services Director Julie Stevermer told the board then she’d be requesting about $490,000 in new staff. In June, commissioners said hiring some new employees was less of a risk than merging with Steele, Dodge and Waseca.

Commissioner Tony Bennett has said it’s very unlikely the board would approve all 14 positions, adding that he thinks the public often gets the wrong impression when the board sets its maximum levy. He cautioned that the board typically approves a much lower levy.