Commissioners approve 1.9% tax levy increase, budget for 2023

Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2022

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The Mower County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the 2023 tax levy and budget.

Commissioners unanimously approved a budget of $23,700,221 with a tax levy increase of 1.9% amounting to a dollar increase of $442,318.This comes after commissioners moved the final numbers forward from its Truth and Taxation Meeting Monday night.

The 1.9% increase is a long ways away from where commissioners started, which was an 18% tax levy increase. That eventually dropped to 5.9% in August and then again to the final number of just under 2%.

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Inflation played a major role in the levy increase, with commissioners having to account for rising energy costs, increased cost of road and bridge materials and a 6.5% health insurance increase.

The county is also in the midst of a three-year market rate adjustment to its compensation schedule, while at the same time adding five new positions.

At the same time, the county was able to negotiate health insurance premium costs down from 19% to 6.5%, which amounted to around $650,000 in savings, and ordered three new squad cars for the Mower County Sheriff’s Department this year which saved the county around $185,000 among other cuts through sheriff’s office hiring innovations, Reduced Capital projects and reduced contingency funds.

Projected county expenses for the upcoming year include:

• Public Works: $22,136,975

• Health and Human Services: $17,736,211

• Public Safety: $13,017,810

• General Government: $10,091,677

• Enterprise Fund (Recycling funded by solid waste fee): $1,461,250

• Miscellaneous: Capital — $50,000, Library — $313,050.

Projected revenue from 2023 includes:

• Intergovernmental: $27,901,525

• Levy: $23,701,221

• Other: $5,459,057

• Transit and Wheelage Tax:  $2,375,000

• Charges for Services: $2,348,923

• Wind Production Tax: $1,525,000

The Wind Production Tax, which helps fund a variety of projects within the county, including roads and accounts for 2% of Mower County’s overall expected revenue, saw its second consecutive decline by around $150,000.

County Administrator Trish Harren said the reason was because existing transmission lines are too full, something county officials hope will be alleviated by the incoming Dodge County Wind Project by NextEra, projected to hopefully start construction in the spring of 2023.

That project will be situated south of Claremont and north of Blooming Prairie and Hayfield and will consist of 79 wind turbines generating 259 megawatts of energy. Transmission lines are expected to cut through a portion of northern Mower County.