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County approves 2012 proposed budget and levy

By Staff | Sep 11, 2011

The Faribault County Board of Commissioners unanimously accepted a resolution for the 2012 budget and levy proposal Tuesday.

The board is preparing to pass a final budget and levy in December.

Early proposals indicate a levy increase of 3.1 percent in 2012.

“I think 3.1 percent is a fairly reasonable number,” Commissioner Tom Loveall says. “Considering some of the realities we are facing from the state backing away from the counties.”

County Auditor John Thompson says that this is the first year without levy limits, however, the increase of 3.1 percent is very similar to what Faribault County’s levy would have been under levy limit statutes.

“We have done a good job, but obviously there is more work to be done,” Thompson says.

Almost the entire increase will be directed towards paying county employees post-employment benefits.

Anyone who was hired before January 1, 2002, is eligible to receive health care premiums from the county after retirement. With the rising cost of medical care, the cost to fund this service in 2012 has been estimated to escalate to $233,000.

“It’s an obligation we have,” Loveall says. “We are not walking away from it.”

Despite rising costs the county must pay for employee benefits, Thompson says funding will be available for some capital improvement projects.

Most notably making improvements to the courthouse.

“When we talk about the tower on the courthouse, we know we have an issue,” Loveall says. “We have silicone, patching and tar paper holding the thing together. It is only so long you can keep pushing off those kind of expenses.”

“When you look at the courthouse from the boulevard you see bricks falling out and tipping every which direction,” Commissioner John Roper says. “We have got to start taking care of this courthouse and it’s not going to be a cheap project.”

Commissioner Tom Warmka says the levy of 3.1 percent could actually be reduced, but agrees with the opinion of Loveall and Roper.

To see more of this article, see this week’s Register