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BREAKING NEWS

County considers 4.1% levy increase

By Staff | Dec 7, 2009

Although it wasn’t originally on the agenda, the Faribault County Board of Commissioners spent a portion of their Tuesday meeting discussing the budget and levy for 2010.

County Auditor/Treasurer John Thompson first brought up the issue, saying the budget and levy decision needs to be done by Dec. 15.

“I guess I need to know the board’s feelings about leaving the levy at the 4.1 percent increase,” Thompson told the board. “It makes a difference how we do the budget.”

That number is the maximum amount of increase Faribault County is allowed to increase local taxes. The board set the proposed levy at that maximum increase amount last month, butneeds to set the actual increase by the Dec. 15 deadline.

Although no vote was taken, most commissioners spoke in favor of leaving the levy at the full increase, for a variety of reasons.

Commissioner Tom Warmka hoped to avoid spending any more from fund reserves.

“I also think we are going to get ripped at least once more by the state,” he said, referring to the governor’s recent unallotments of county and city funds.

Commissioner Bill Groskreutz pointed out the 2010 budget doesn’t include funds for remodeling needed at the old jail; a possible issue, considering a committee is studying what to do with the building.

“There is a chance we will need to spend some money, before eventually turning it around into a revenue producer,” he says.

Commissioner John Roper also spoke in favor of the 4.1 percent increase.

“We need to build up a little revenue for several areas not included in the budget,” he says. He pointed to a need to fix up the Human Services building.

Thompson said the budget is manageable at the current time because of savings from other areas, including the annual amount given to the County Economic Development Authority (EDA). The board voted not to fund the EDA, which last year was an $86,000 expense.

“If we give Go Minnesota $50,000, that means we are saving $36,000 over last year,” Thompson said. He added that each percent of the levy brings in $80,000.

Chairman Tom Loveall said the basic question was whether to lower the levy and return money to the taxpayers, or keep the increase to cover other costs, or unallotments.

“Either way, we will have to make the final decision on Dec. 15,” Loveall said.

The board made several other decisions affecting next year’s budget, including voting to accept a bid for demolition and disposal of old mobile homes in a Well’s park.

Two bids were received from Wells firms. Weber Construction submitted a bid of $36,000, and Dulas Construction had a bid of $35,000. The lower bid was accepted, while the city agreed to participate by paying half of the cost, according to Thompson.

Bids include possible asbestos removal, recycling useable materials and capping off all underground pipes. Work must be accomplished by May 31.

The board also accepted a new contract with the Teamsters Union, representing jailers and dispatchers.

The new one-year contract calls for a 2.9 percent increase in wages, $610 per month for health insurance premiums, and raises the uniform allowance from $420 to $500.

Three of the four union contracts have now been settled for the coming year, the board was told.