For another year in a series of years, the Redwood County Board of Commissioners officially certified a zero percent increase for its property tax levy for 2013. The levy, which was officially certified at $10,584,934 this past Tuesday, was approved unanimously by the board.
The commissioners ap-proved a preliminary levy in September at zero percent, which meant had the board opted to change the levy in December it would have meant an additional de-crease as the certified levy can’t be increased over what was approved in the preliminary levy.
The levy is broken down into several categories, with the major portion of the levy, $5.574 million, going into the revenue fund. Other higher dollar categories include $2.195 million for human services, $1.356 million for road and bridge and $722,906 for debt service.
One of the areas the board did discuss at length was the debt service fund, as it has allocated $215,000 in that fund for the proposed law enforcement center.
Commissioner John Schueller suggested the county might want to consider borrowing a bit more right now, as low interest rates means money is cheap.
“As cheap as money is does it make sense to borrow while you can?” queried Schueller.
The board was reminded if it had increased its debt service allocation it would have had to cut dollars from one of its other funds.
The board also discussed the fact it currently has a healthy reserve fund which has undesignated dollars that could be and are going to be used to help cover some of the costs for the law enforcement center project proposal and other potential projects, such as the recycling center.
The board also approved the budget for 2013.
The budget is a more detailed allocation of dollars being spent by the county over the next year, with a total projected revenue for 2013 at $22,892,587.
The total budget expenditures for 2013 are $25,999,882.
One of the big expenditures for 2013 in Redwood County is the buy-in to Southwest Health and Hum-an Services.
One new portion of the property tax levy is based on the creation of a special taxing district, with the dollars collected over the next three years being used for a water retention project near Walnut Grove. The $25,000 allocation is only being assessed on those with parcels located within the scope of the project.
After approving the budget, the board held a discussion regarding salary increases for its elected officials and non-union employees. The board recently approved a contract with its AFSCME group for a 2.5 percent (step) increase in 2013, and the county is currently in the second year of a three-year contract with its LELS employees, with a 2.5 percent increase (Step) and a .5 percent cost of living allowance increase.
The board agreed based on its zero percent levy increase to hold its salaries to the same as they were in 2012, with the agreement to give the other elected officials, including the county auditor-treasurer, recorder, sheriff and attorney a 2.5 percent increase and a .5 percent COLA increase. The board also approved the same 2.5 percent increase and .5 percent COLA increase for its non-union employees for 2013.
Page 2 of 2 - All employee agreements, with the exception of LELS are approved annually.