Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 31, 2014

Supervisors cut taxes

By DIANE VANCE | Mar 20, 2014

Jefferson County residents will see lower county property tax levies for fiscal year 2015, which begins July 1, according to the board of supervisors’ resolution Monday.

Urban rates for county residents will be $6.81 per $1,000 valuation, which is 31-cents lower than the current fiscal year levy rate and a 4 percent decrease.

Rural tax levy rates for county residents will be lower only by 1-cent, at $9.41 per $1,000 valuation beginning July 1, compared to $9.42 currently.

A public hearing Monday about fiscal year 2015 budget outlined the budget appropriations per service area.

The county budget for fiscal year 2015 is $10,893,278, which is an increase of $320,101 from the current fiscal year budget of $10,573,177.

Details of the budget are available at the county auditor’s office.

“The levy rate for mental health services was lowered by a nickel,” said Supervisor Dick Reed after the meeting. “When the county ran its own mental health services, we levied 45-cents in that category. We want to be fiscally responsible and not carry a large balance, so we reduced the rate to 40-cents in this budget, which helped lower the overall rate.”

Iowa has required counties to merge into regions to provide mental health care services, so it is no longer a county-by-county responsibility.

“The mental health budget is in good shape now,” said supervisor Becky Schmitz at Monday’s meeting. “We may need to revisit it in a year.”

The mental health administration has $614,800 budgeted in fiscal year 2015.

Supervisor Lee Dimmitt said lowering the mental health levy rate still leaves a reserve in the balance.

“Now, the debt levy went up a little,” said Reed. “We borrowed additional money for county property renovations, such as the county attorney’s office and here at the courthouse.”

Reed said the supervisors aimed to lower the year-end surplus to 19.1 percent.

“I’m super proud of the auditor’s office,” he said. “The staff have spent hours working on numbers for the supervisors, because the board has the final say on how money is spent. But the auditor’s office does great work.”

The largest amount of money is appropriated to the county engineer’s department, at $3,435,000 for fiscal year 2015.

“A lot of that is for equipment and repairs, but salaries are in there, too,” said Reed.

The county sheriff’s office is the second-highest appropriation in the county budget, at $2,301,635 for next fiscal year.

The third-highest appropriation is to the board of supervisors at $987,017.

“This account makes contributions to economic development, Area 15 Regional Planning, SEIDA, courthouse building costs and utilities and debt service payments,” said Dimmitt.

Each supervisor is paid the same salary, just under $31,000 annually, said Dimmitt.

In other budget news, supervisors Monday approved requests from department heads to amend current year budgets to reflect actual income and spending.

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