County looks to hold line on taxes
County commissioners reviewed the proposed budget Thursday, reaching consensus that the mill levy for next year will remain the same.
Increased property valuations will bring in $348,000 more tax revenue, but commissioner Randy Dallke questioned whether the windfall should be used to reduce overall expenses.
“Are we doing any tightening of our belts?” Dallke asked. “It still bothers me that we’re living off the lush.”
Commission chair Roger Fleming cautioned against such a move.
“Right now we have some increases due to increased valuation,” Fleming said. “There may come a time when we don’t have that. If we start lowering it, then when we get to that point, we have to raise it so much.”
Fleming said he believed levies should be kept as stable as possible across budget years.
“That’s my philosophy of not being cut-crazy to make it look like we’re doing a great job,” he said. “Eight years from now, somebody else comes in and they have to pay for our prudence. People can budget for level numbers. If we can keep it running the same over the years, we’re cutting dollars spent just through inflation.”
Certified public accountant Scot Loyd agreed.
“They don’t remember whey you took the dive, they remember when you went back up,” he said. “The better you can manage to keep it flatter, it helps everybody out.”
Economic development was an area Dallke used to illustrate his point.
“There needs to be some changes done in our economic development,” Dallke said. “I think we’re not fulfilling what the job was set out to do. Our times have changed, and we need to tighten our belts a bit.”
Dallke said the county extension office’s request for a $6,000 increase could be cut.
“I just feel we’ve not touched that, and that is one way I’ve felt I would be willing to make a move,” Dallke said.
Commissioners voted to keep the same funding as last year for the extension office and took no action on economic development.
Engineer Bruce Boettcher of BG Consultants met with commissioners to review issues surrounding the straightening of road curves in Nighthawk Rd. at 130th Rd.
An 8-inch water line for the city of Peabody and a fiber optics line for the TEEN network run through the corner, and straightening the curves may require relocation of both lines.
“I’ll probably let them know there’s going to be a problem out there,” Dallke said. “When the plans are drawn up, I think we need to take care of the city of Peabody then. I don’t know who the board of TEEN is now.”
Holub asked what issues would arise with the road sections that would be vacated after construction.
“If you leave the utilities there, you may not want to vacate,” Boettcher said. “It’s in an easement there, you don’t want people farming over it; it’s probably not deep enough.
“Or we can rip it all out and make it useable if we do move the utilities. I’m open to both.”
Commissioners voted to retain BG Consultants to develop detailed plans for the project.