Union County Board of Supervisors have a scheduled public hearing for 10 a.m. March 6 in the Union County Courthouse before voting on the recommended county budget for fiscal year 2018 (FY2018).
The tax levy for the upcoming budget is 12.50133 per $1,000 valuation.
“I look at the numbers and see how they add up. But the upshot of it is, the valuations in the county went up, what property is worth, the valuation total raised,” said Dennis Brown, board president. “So we were able to lower our levy. It’s going to be almost 11 cents lower than last year.”
While the tax levy decreased, the tax asking increased. The tax asking from FY2017 was about $11 million, and FY2018 is more than $12.5 million.
Just because the tax levy decreased does not mean a person’s taxes decrease.
“We try to keep our levies down, or keep it steady, and depending on what other taxing entities do, your taxes could go up,” said Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell.
Hysell said the county’s ranking for highest tax levy has slowly decreased, despite having a smaller amount of townships throughout the county, causing less valuation than other counties.
“We keep coming down every year. At one point, we were No. 1. Now we’re at 5 or 6,” Hysell said.
Approximately 40 percent of the county budget is dedicated to wages, similar to the percentage in FY2017. Another large portion of the budget is dedicated to secondary roads, at about $3.75 million.
“That’s where we have the most employees, the most equipment. It’s such a large amount of roadways, ... it would be your largest expense,” Brown said. “There’s so much more to be done, it’s just naturally going to be a much higher figure.”
“They’re getting the 100 percent that we can give them,” Hysell said. “But, it’s not just tax dollars that they get. They also get money from Farm to Market and local option sales tax.”
More than $3.5 million is dedicated to county environment and education, which covers Union County conservation, Union County Fair, Union County Development Association, Gibson Memorial Library and other organizations.
While the tax levy decreased, the debt service levy increased a small amount to 1.76647 per $1,000 valuation.
County supervisors plan to pay off at least one bond in the next 18 months, Brown said.
“We’re going to pay off CHS Processing, the bean plant,” Brown said. “We have regularly scheduled bond payments that, by law, when those debts were incurred, we have a time period to pay them back. We do pay quite a bit every year.”
The original bonds for county supervisors, which were for the CHS bean mill plant and road projects, were set at $515,000 in 2007, $4,245,000 in 2009, $3,980,000 in 2010 and $3,300,000 in 2011, which added up to a total county debt of $12,040,000.
In 2016, the county had decreased the amount to $5,525,000. When the bean plant is paid off, the county debt will be at approximately $5 million. That is a difference of more than $7 million.
To read the Union County budget published in Thursday’s edition of the Creston News Advertiser, go to the “legal notices” option at www.crestonnews.com or visit the “auditor” option at www.unioncountyiowa.org.