Levy rates increasing in Greene County

Greene County taxpayers have had decades of tax relief without even realizing it. The tax relief was provided by Dennis and Marcia Morlan, owners of Greene County Emergency Medical Services. The privately-owned ambulance service left the contract rate charged to the county for EMS services unchanged at $38,400 per year for decades.

The unnoticed tax relief has ended with the Morlans’ retirement March 1. After nearly a year of discussion, the county supervisors and Dennis Morlan determined the only way to continue ambulance service in the county is to transition to a county-run service. The EMS staff are now county employees with county benefits, at county expense.

(A county-based ambulance service is not cost-free for county residents to use. Ambulance users and their insurance companies will be billed as they always have been. The additional property taxes will make up the difference between the cost of running the ambulance service and what is paid for services.)

The county budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019 (FY20), reflects the increased cost with an increase in the countywide levy rate to 6.69 (dollars per $1,000 of taxable valuation). That’s an increase of 89.5 cents (per $1,000). The countywide levy will generate $4,584,575.

The rural levy, a separate levy paid by rural property owners, is increased 5 cents to 3.40 (dollars per $1,000 of taxable valuation). Rural taxpayers will pay a total levy rate of 10.09, compared to 9.145 in the current year. The rural levy will generate $1,677,924.

All revenue from property taxes is estimated at $6,262,500 for FY20, compared to $5,379,355 in the re-estimated FY19 budget.

Total revenues and transfers in are pegged at $14,445,219. Total expenditures and transfers out are budgeted at $14,958,618.

Expenditures in the various service areas total $13,345,278 and are as follows:

Public safety and legal services – Sheriff’s office and Law Enforcement Center, county attorney and courts, and ambulance. The $2,565,000 total includes $1,591,000 for the sheriff’s office and law enforcement center and $614, 600 for ambulance and emergency management.

Physical health and social services – Public health, veterans services, children and family services, etc., $601,500, an increase of only $5,000 from the current year. The payment to Greene County Medical Center to provide public health services is unchanged at $300,000.

Mental health, intellectual disability & developmental disabilities – $346,100, includes a $22.20 per capita levy which will be paid Heart of Iowa Community Services. The county also pays the salaries of the coordinator of disability services and a mental health advocate, neither of which are fulltime  positions.

County environment and education – Conservation, economic development, libraries, county fair, housing programs, etc. $715,000, an increase of $8,000 includes added funding for libraries.

Roads and transportation – $6,037,500. Of the expenses, $2,624,000 is for roadway maintenance and $2,875,500 is for equipment and operations. The budget includes $232,000 for snow and ice control.

Revenue going into the secondary roads budget includes $3,399,000 from the state road use tax/TIME 21, $1,170,000 from the rural levy, and another $53,000 from the countywide levy. The local option sales/service tax (LOSST) will provide an estimated $325,000.

Government services to residents – Motor vehicle services at the treasurer’s office, recorder’s office, elections administration, $408,000.

Administration – Auditor and treasurer except as noted above, board of supervisors, general services data processing, county liability/unemployment insurance and other insurance, $2,310,000, an increase of $214,000 that includes new servers for the courthouse computer network and added insurance costs.

Nonprogram current – Discretionary funding for organizations and grants for “brick and mortar” projects, $60,000. The budget for this service area also reflects $50,000 in Fair Foundation flow through monies.

The estimated total fund balance at the end of the coming fiscal year, June 30, 2020, is estimated at $2,884,461, a decrease of $513,399 from the re-estimated fund balance projected for June 30, 2019. The total fund balance represents 22 percent of expenditures.

In the re-estimated FY19 budget, the total ending fund balance represents 26 percent of expenditures. The FY19 budget approved a year ago showed a total fund balance of 25 percent of expenditures.

A public hearing on the FY20 budget will be held Monday, March 11, at 9 am in the board room on the second floor of the courthouse. Click here for the notice of public hearing.

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