by Steve Peterson
Plymouth County supervisors trimmed the budget request from Plymouth County Conservation Board for the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year.
Supervisors changed the line item in the proposed budget from a $551,242 request to $490,000. The original request was a $42,468 increase from FY 2012-2013, with the new amount being a $18,774 decrease. The supervisors’ vote to cut the amount was 4-0.
At issue included the change of status for the outreach coordinator from a part-time position with no benefits to a full-time position with benefits.
“It is a $51,000 position for free enterprise. I have heard nothing but favorable reports about Molly Wilms but in the private sector, to justify that, it would have to generate $100,000 in revenues,” said Supervisor Craig Anderson.
Considering recent 3.5 percent salary raises, the Conservation Board could go down $68,150 to $487,000 at Anderson’s suggestion, but the majority of the supervisors rounded it off to a $490,000 amount.
“They can use REAP funds to pay for a part-time position,” said Anderson.
Further budget talks for the FY 2014 budget will be at the Jan. 22 supervisors’ 9:30 a.m. meeting at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars.
“We’re working hard for the taxpayer to do the job as cheaply as we can,” said Anderson. “Every other department has held the line to a 3.5 percent increase or less.”
The Plymouth County Compensation Board had recommended a 2 percent increase for board of supervisors and a 3.5 percent increase for the sheriff, auditor, treasurer and recorder.
After some discussion, Supervisors opted for a 2 percent raise for supervisors and 3 percent for sheriff, auditor, treasurer and recorder.
“The Compensation Board puts in a lot of time with the recommendation, and I think we should honor that. That is why I went with 3 percent,” said Supervisor Jim Henrich.
This is a 14.28 percent reduction from the Compensation Board’s recommendation.
As part of the Rural Services budget, the Plymouth County Libraries had requested $103,000 from the county but the suggested amount was $78,000, a $5,000 increase from this fiscal year.
Plymouth County Fair Board President Tony Schroeder of Le Mars presented a budget request for a $25,000 amount for proposed fairgrounds capital improvements, including replacing and adding bleachers and new shingles for the round barn’s roof.
During the budget discussion, supervisors preferred a $20,000 contribution, up from this year’s $15,000.
Tax rate discussion
Supervisors discussed lowering the 22 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for the Supplemental Fund as part of the General Fund to 14 cents.
The General Fund rate of $3.50 per $1,000 of assessed value and the Rural Services rate of $3.95 cents per $1,000 of assessed value will stay the same as in FY 2012-13. The Debt Service rate will go from six to five cents.
“I would like to see the Supplemental Fund reduced. But, you don’t want to reduce all the property taxes and then have to reinstate them,” said Anderson.
“This is a tax that is applied to all property, all evaluation, even in a Tax Increment Financing area,” said Supervisor Don Kass of the Supplemental Fund.
“The important thing is we can go to the taxpayer and say we’ve reduced it,” said Anderson of the Supplemental Fund. “Evaluations have gone up so everyone’s taxes have gone up. At least we can reduce some of the levy.”
“We’ve gotten fairly close to the inflation rate; maybe even down to inflation,” said Kass.
Other line items
Board of Supervisors’ pay, with the 2 percent raise, will go to $216,817. Other line items: Auditor and Elections, $320,702; Attorney, $526,255, a 1.33 percent increase; Communications Center, with a 3 percent salary raise, to $368,521; Plymouth County Law Enforcement Center/ Jail, a 3 percent raise for staff, $1,041,999, up $41,626; Recorder, $247,376; and District Court, $53,000.
Community Services amounts, as of the first round budget talks: Drug Court, $2,500 stays the same; Synergy – Jackson Recovery, $7,000; Siouxland Regional Transportation Authority, $31,500; Mid-Sioux Opportunity, $10,000, stays the same as this fiscal year; Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, $10,000, up from $7,500.
As of the first round of talks, the General Basic Fund stood at $6,159,456 for FY 2013-2014, an increase of $267,489, or 4.54 percent.
The Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) has a beginning fund balance of $1,400,000; it must have a minimum of $1,025,000. Revenues total $1,550,000 including 12 monthly tax payments at $85,000 each for $1,020,000 for total revenues of $1,550,000.
The LOST Advisory Board amount is a suggested $200,000. Other expenses for LOST: November 2013 Jail payment, county portion, $302,000; May 2014 jail payment, $12,615; courthouse projects such as finishing landscape and water, $25,000; Secondary Road infrastructure, $300,000; boring fiber to Secondary Road offices, $150,000; removal of tower from courthouse and roof repair, $30,000; cash flow refunding RISE Fund for Joint Urban Renewal Fund, $500,000 for a total of $1,514,615. Ending fund balance of June 30, 2014 of $1,430,385; contingency reserves, $405,385; Winter Feed Lot Crescent Ridge projects, $405,385; RISE fund paycheck must retain $500,000.