Earlier this year, the Redwood County board’s budget committee began meeting to review submissions and requests for funding for 2019. As the committee worked it began putting together the proposed budget for the upcoming year and how it would pay for that budget.

One of its tasks was to determine the 2019 tax levy for the county, and that proposed levy was presented to the Redwood County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Sept. 18.

The county board approved the preliminary adjusted tax levy at $12,514,151, which reflects a 3.1 percent increase over the certified levy for 2018.

The certified levy proposal is $13,162,792 for 2019, but that is offset by $620,982 in county aid and $27,659 in PERA aid.

The levy includes $6,951,905 in the county revenue fund, with $2,589,097 for human services which reflects a 7.2 percent increase over the 2018 certified levy, $212,782 in public health, an 8.2 percent increase over 2018, $1,795,000 for road and bridge (no increase), $950,000 in the building fund, which is a 46.2 percent increase, $108,573 for the regional library, a 6.5 percent increase and $555,435 in debt service, which reflects a 17.5 percent decrease.

“We can’t go up after today,” said Lon Walling, county commissioner, who, along with Commissioner Dave Forkrud, served as the budget committee working with Vicki Knobloch, county administrator.

The establishment of the preliminary levy at a 3.1 percent increase sets the parameters in which the county can now work for the next couple of months before certifying the final levy at the end of November. 

There was a brief discussion about the possibility of increasing the levy by up to another 1.5 percent, which would have added $178,000 to the levy, but the board, based on the recommendation of the budget committee, agreed that was not necessary.

“Times are not that good right now,” said Walling.

Knobloch told the commissioners that the final 2019 levy has to be certified before the end of the year.

The board expressed its appreciation to the committee and to the department heads for their hard work in establishing a budget, with Salfer adding the departments do a great job throughout the year keeping within their budgets as well.

“As of August everyone is at or below their budget,” said Salfer.

The board will certify its levy following its Truth in Taxation meeting in November.

In other action during its meeting, the Red-wood County board:

• Voted to join the Prime West county based purchasing health plan at a cost of $1.4 million. In August, the board initially voted against joining Prime West, but in the following weeks received more information about the opportunities that exist by moving forward with this plan.

Knobloch told the board that it does not have to pay all of the funding up-front.

The board determined that it can use funding from its human services and public health reserves in addition to other funding to cover the costs. The board approved the request 3-2, with Walling and Forkrud voting against.

• Approved an amendment to its agreement with Pictometry International Corporation for pictometry, with the plan to have photos of the county taken in Fall 2019 or Spring 2020, instead of waiting three years, at a cost of $103,988.

According to Scott Wold, Redwood County environmental office director, the funds for the work would come from the buffers allocation to the county. The intent would be to use the pictometry images to help determine state buffer law compliance.

• Approved a bid to have the new county highway shop in Redwood Falls cleaned at a cost of $13,000 on a 4-1 vote, with Walling voting against.