November 26, 2022

County levy rates down .25%

The Union County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed FY 22 budget 10 a.m. Mar. 22.

Editor’s note: FY 21 runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. FY 22 will be July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.

The proposed fiscal year 2022 budget for Union County includes a .25% decrease in the estimated tax levy for general services and a .24% decrease in the estimated tax rate for rural services.

Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell said the supervisors reduced the levy in order to bring in the same dollar amount of $1,046,241 in property taxes as fiscal year 2021 because they estimate the total taxes levied on property will be up by $246,821 or 5.17%.

Hysell said this growth is due to the rise in property valuations.

Supervisor Rick Friday said the county was able to reduce the levy partly due to the work of all of the department heads, who kept their budgets in check during FY 21.

“We rolled over enough money ... we were able to do that this year,” Friday said. “We worked really hard to be able to do that.”

Union County Board of Supervisors Chair Ron Riley said the goal when creating the budget is to not ask for more from the taxpayers than they did the previous year, however some budgets include increases due to filling positions that have been left vacant or unable to be filled previously — such as the assistant county attorney.

“All the department heads presented a bare bones budget request, working with the supervisors to achieve our goal,” Riley said.

In the “other county taxes/ TIF Tax revenues” category, the board is expecting to receive around $59,000 less than FY 21.

Total expenditures for the county are budgeted at $12,983,854 equaling $169,087 more than the previous year.

Salaries

The compensation board suggested 4% salary increases for the elected county officials with the exception of the sheriff and county attorney due to the recent election of a new sheriff and the uncertainty at the time of how the county attorney position would be filled.

The supervisors approved the 4% raise for the auditor, recorder and treasurer — increasing their salaries by $2,410.64 to $62,676.64.

For themselves, the supervisors reduced the compensation board’s proposal of a 4% raise to 2% or $574.51. This is after rejecting a raise entirely in the previous two years although a 4% raise was proposed each time.

The supervisors will vote on the proposal by the compensation board 10:15 a.m. Mar. 15.

Public safety

The public safety and legal service budget increases by $2,401 for FY 22, including a $5,000 increase for court appointed attorneys and court costs for juveniles and a $3,829 increase in administrative services. The legal services budget is down by $1,528 and the court proceedings program is $5,500 less than the previous year.

Social services

The social service budget cuts $45,000 from the youth guidance category — leaving it at zero — and $94,500 from the services for disabled children.

Hysell explained this change is due to a pass through grant that was received in FY 21 that will not be received or paid out in FY 22.

Secondary roads

The largest budget for the county, secondary roads, will decrease by $223,042 with the reduction coming from lowering the new equipment budget by $293,000. The administration and engineering costs increase by $9,764 and $6,695 respectively along with a $66,483 increase in the road maintenance program.

Friday said the board was able to allocate extra money in FY 21 due to Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements after reconstruction due to flooding in the spring of 2019.

“We owe a lot of that to Zach Gunsolley,” Friday said. “He worked really hard to get that (money).”

Friday said, after asking the secondary roads crew what would help them be more efficient, $400,000 of the FEMA money was used for new equipment in FY 21.

The Union County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the budget 10 a.m. Monday, Mar. 22 during its weekly meeting at the Union County Courthouse. Members of the public may attend the meeting to offer objections or support for budget items. Written communication may be directed to any of the supervisors: chair Ron Riley, 641-782-0758, rriley@unioncountyiowa.org; Dennis Brown, 641-340-1098, dbrown@unioncountyiowa.org; Rick Friday, 641-344-9130, rfriday@unioncountyiowa.org; or the auditor’s office, 641-782-1701, shysell@unioncountyiowa.org.

The full proposed budget can be viewed at https://unioncountyiowa.org.

REGINA SMITH

Reporter, columnist, teacher, children's book author, book store owner - Regina Smith has a wide range of experience in writing and education. She combines those interests and experiences to cover city and county government and human interest stories as well as writing a biweekly column in her home town of Creston, Iowa.