County budget for FY18 decreases county-wide levy, increases rural levy

After countless hours of discussion over three months’ time, the Greene County supervisors and county auditor Jane Heun are proposing a budget for fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018) that is similar to the current year budget.

Revenue from increasing valuations allowed the supervisors to decrease the county-wide levy 3 cents (per $1,000 in taxable valuation). At the recommendation of first-term sheriff Jack Williams, the sheriff’s office will add a sixth deputy position, funded by an increase in the rural levy. Rural property owners will see a net increase of 1 cent.

John Muir, chair of the board of supervisors, said the budget process went smoothly. “We came in where we wanted to with the budget,” Muir said. “Expenses increase every year, but so far we’ve been able to work within our means.”

The total property valuation used for computing property tax dollars for the county is $647,356,000, an increase of 4.01 percent over the current year. The taxable valuation is based in part on property values as of Jan. 1, 2016.

The other factor is the state mandated rollback, which determines the percentage of the assessed value against which the county can tax. This year the county can levy taxes against 56.9 percent of the assessed value of residential property and 47.5 percent of rural property. The rollback was 55.6 percent and 46 percent, respectively, for FY17.

The increase in total property valuation for computing property taxes for FY17 was just .85 percent.

The valuation for rural properties for property taxes increased 3.51 percent to $471,313,500 for the FY18 budget.

The valuation for property taxes on urban properties is $176,043,000 for FY 18, an increase of 5.35 percent.

The proposed budget sets the countywide levy rate at 5.65 (dollars per thousand dollars of taxable valuation), 3 cents less than the current rate. That will generate $3,657,565 in property tax revenue, compared to $3,535,325 in the current year.

The rural levy, an additional levy paid by rural property owners, is increased four cents to a rate of 3.20 for the new fiscal year. Rural taxpayers will pay a total levy rate of 8.85. The rural levy will generate $1,508,203, compared to $1,438,801 in the current year.

All revenue from property taxes is estimated at $5,165,768 for FY 18, compared to $4,974,126 for the current year.

Total revenue and transfers in is pegged at $13,070,465, a decrease of $42,000. That includes a decrease of nearly $600,000 in “miscellaneous revenue” (Form 630, line 12) compared to FY17 due primarily to a difference in pass through funds. For example, the money received by the Bell Tower Community Foundation for enhancements to the bell tower are included in the FY17 budget. The sale of the former armory to the Greene County Schools is shown as “proceeds of fixed asset sales (Form 630, line 16).

Total expenditures and transfers out for FY18 are estimated at $13,431,445, down from the re-estimated $13,614,749 for the current year.

Expenditures in the various service areas total $11,893,945 and are as follows (rounded to the nearest thousand):

Public safety and legal services – Sheriff’s office and Law Enforcement Center, $1,527,000. The $1,947,000 total also includes county attorney, juvenile court services and emergency services. This is an increase of $238,000, which includes costs related to adding another deputy position and an assistant to the county attorney.

Physical health and social services – Public health, veterans services, children and family services, etc., $523,425,000, an increase of $39,680. The supervisors increased the allocation for public health from $150,000 to $200,000, and decreased administrative costs for the services to the poor and services to military veterans line items by $5,000 each.

Mental health, intellectual disability and developmental disability – $379,000, an increase of $2,500. This budget is determined by the board of Heart of Iowa Community Services (Greene, Guthrie, Audubon and Dallas counties).

County environment and education – Conservation, economic development, libraries, county fair, housing programs, etc., $681,000. This is a decrease of $163,000, primarily because the roadside management (weed control) budget was transferred from this service area to the roads and transportation service area. County engineer Wade Weiss and the secondary roads department took over those duties several years ago.

Roads and transportation – $5,227,000. Of the total expense, $1,105,000 is being funded by property tax from the rural levy, with another $50,000 coming from the county-wide levy. The local option sales/service tax (LOSST) will add $325,000. State road use tax revenue is anticipated at $2,952,000. The total includes $2,249,000 for roadway maintenance and $2,506,000 for equipment, operations, materials and supplies, etc.

Another $549,000 is budgeted for roadway construction under capital projects (line 27, Form 630). That line item also includes planned upgrades at Squirrel Hollow, Hyde Park and Spring Lake parks.

Government services to residents – Motor vehicle services at the treasurer’s office, recorder’s office, elections administration, $379,000.

Administration – Auditor and treasurer except as noted above, board of supervisors, general services, data processing and county liability/unemployment insurance, $1,722,000.

Nonprogram current – discretionary funding for organizations and grants for “brick and mortar” projects, $60,000 (paid for by an annual payment of $50,000 in lieu of property tax by Louis Dreyfus LDC and other county funds). This category also includes $200,000 as pass through funds for the Greene County Fair Foundation.

The estimated total fund balance at the end of the new fiscal year, June 30, 2018, is estimated at $3,477,683, a decrease of $360,980 from the re-estimated fund balance for June 30, 2017. The total fund balance is 25.9 percent of expenditures for FY 18.

A public hearing on the proposed FY 2017-18 budget is scheduled for Monday, March 13, at 9 am in the board room at the courthouse. To see the public notice of the public hearing on the budget – Form 630 – click here.

The county levies are only a portion of the total property tax bill. Typically, the county tax is less than 30 percent of the total tax bill for rural property owners and less than 20 percent for non-rural property owners.

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