County Board advances 5.5% tax levy increase following Truth and Taxation Meeting

Published 8:33 pm Monday, December 11, 2023

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The Mower County Board of Commissioners moved ahead its tax levy and budget to a final vote Tuesday following its Truth and Taxation Meeting Monday night.

Commissioners will vote on a tax levy increase of just over $1.3 million or 5.5% as well as a budget of $64 million for 2024.

The increase will generate a hair over $25 million in revenue in 2024, which accounts for 39% of the overall budget.

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The 5.5% is down substantially from an initial 18% increase the county was facing at the beginning of the process, but remains the highest increase for the county since 2015, when commissioners approved a 7% tax levy increase.

Commissioners have been able to keep levy increases small over recent years including just a .50% increase in 2021, but those numbers were bolstered by American Rescue Plan Act dollars related to the COVID pandemic and the ability to keep health insurance premiums low among other factors.

However, this year the board was faced with three cost drivers and one of those was a sharp increase to health insurance.

After seeing increases of just 5-6% over a five-year period, the county is looking at a 20% increase this year, equating to a $500,000 increase.

There was also a 6% market rate adjustment, due largely to labor contracts, that added another $1.5 million into the mix as well as general inflation costs across the board.

At the same time, though, commissioners were able to get the increase down by making cuts and adjustments in a variety of areas that saw purchases for things like squad cars for the Mower County Sheriff’s Office being made this year rather than 2024.

The county also received revenue enhancements as well as one-time revenue additions including $342,424 for medical assistance renewals, $663,309 for use in public safety as well as a $250,000 grant for the E-recycling addition to the Recycling Center.