Kandiyohi County approves 4.5 percent increase in tax levy
WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners has certified a $32.8 million tax levy for next year, a 4.5 percent increase from this year. The increase reflects some of the financial pressures facing the county in the upcoming year: larg...
WILLMAR - The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners has certified a $32.8 million tax levy for next year, a 4.5 percent increase from this year.
The increase reflects some of the financial pressures facing the county in the upcoming year: large
one-time projects, such as a $1 million-plus project at the landfill, and a double-digit hike in the cost of employee health insurance.
“This was one of our more agonizing budgets,” said Jim Butterfield, chairman of the County Board.
Department heads started working on next year’s budget back in June. Four revisions later, a final proposed budget and levy came last month before the County Commissioners for their review.
Revenue from the property tax levy accounts for just under half of the county’s proposed total expenditures next year of $70.1 million. State and federal dollars and user fees also help support programs such as family services, road and bridge maintenance and solid waste management.
In developing the 2016 budget, there were challenges the county has not faced in other years.
Construction will take place next year on a new cell at the county landfill, at a cost of $1.4 million.
Next year is also the year when the county has to come up with a $200,000 local match for the Grass Lake restoration project for improved water quality.
And the county will be hit as well with a 17.5 percent increase in the cost of employee health insurance, half of which will be borne by the employer.
In anticipation of some of the upcoming costs, the county began planning many months ago for how to handle it, said Larry Kleindl, county administrator. Construction at the landfill, for example, will be paid out of reserves, he said. “We don’t just budget for one year, we plan for long term.”
Ongoing costs such as road and facilities maintenance and capital equipment also are built into the budget each year, allowing the county to avoid sharp upward spikes in the tax levy from one year to the next, Kleindl said.
“We try to be more consistent,” he said.
Since 2010, levy increases have remained relatively stable, ranging from 1.5 percent in 2013 to the just-approved 4.5 percent increase for 2016.
Certification of the tax levy is among the almost-final steps needed to make the 2016 budget official.
The last step, the county’s mandatory “Truth in Taxation” meeting, has been set for 6 p.m. Dec. 3 in the board room at the Health and Human Services Building.
The meeting gives the public one last chance to comment or ask questions about the budget before it is officially adopted and submitted to the state auditor.
Kandiyohi County Board gets first look at proposed 2016 budget