NORTH MANKATO —
“We’ve cut that down to 3 percent through a series of 11 County Board workshops,” said Bridgette Kennedy, the county auditor and interim county administrator.
The county levy is increasing $472,000, down a bit from the $630,000 increase approved in September when the board set its preliminary levy. It could be reduced a bit more at the Monday budget hearing where the 2013 levy will be approved, but Kennedy said the commissioners appear to be comfortable with the 3 percent increase.
The increase covers inflation, along with the addition of a deputy, a dispatcher and a part-time clerk in the sheriff’s budget and a new children’s mental health social worker in the Social Services Department.
“That’s comprising the biggest portion of the 3 percent increase,” she said.
Even with the increase, the county budget isn’t balanced. County Program Aid, which is state aid to counties, is expected to fall by $332,000 in 2013. So the proposed budget uses about $400,000 in reserve funds to erase the red ink.
A close look at the tax bill also shows the ongoing shift in the tax burden from homeowners to agricultural land, something caused both by changes made at the Capitol more than a year ago and by the rapid increase in farmland value. For many homeowners, the shift will be obvious in the county portion of the tax bill — a drop in the taxes they are paying to the county even as the county’s overall tax levy rises.