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Chippewa County proposes levy increase

MONTEVIDEO -- Chippewa County is proposing a 7.41 percent increase to its levy for 2009.

The Chippewa County Board of Commissioners approved a proposed budget Tuesday calling for a $7,184,446 levy -- a $495,654 boost from the 2008 levy.

County Auditor/Treasurer Jon Clauson said Thursday that wages and benefits "are certainly a player" in the county's budget increases for 2009. Fueling costs for the Sheriff's Department are also taking a big portion of the county's 2009 revenues, Clauson said.

"I think all the county boards are really trying to keep their levies in check as best as possible," Clauson said. "Nevertheless, you have to keep going. So we've been keeping up with (expenses), but that's about the extent of it."

Clauson said the county expects about $705,107 from county aid. Clauson said the amount was $88,582 more than its 2008 county program aid.

The increase in county aid was a switch from the norm, Clauson said, because Chippewa County was one of 14 counties in Minnesota that was receiving fewer aid dollars during the last few years.

"That $88,000 was a nice shot in the arm for us," Clauson said.

Meanwhile, the county has just tried to uphold its programming for its citizens.

"In Chippewa County, I would say we are maintaining services," Clauson said. For most places in the state, Clauson said, the cities and counties are maintaining or even losing services. "But in Chippewa County, we've been able to maintain the same level of service."

Clauson said the Board of Commissioners passed the levy amount with a unanimous vote.

"Certainly, smaller levy increases are more attractive, but they were comfortable with the levy," Clauson said.

Most of the budget had been discussed in previous meetings, Clauson said, so the levy amount garnered the most of the board's attention Tuesday.

A final budget and levy for the county must be adopted by Dec. 15.