Lots of changes in county budget — except the levy

August 24, 2018

MADISON — It’s only written in pencil, but it appears that Madison County’s property-tax levy to support county government will remain about the same in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

While the overall budget is projected to increase about 5.9 percent to roughly $39.6 million, the levy is projected to remain about the same because of an increase of property valuation of 3.3 percent, use of $1 million in inheritance tax revenue, some larger than usual carryover funds in some budgets and about $180,000 in cuts that were made Tuesday during the Madison County board of commissioners meeting.

Last year’s levy was 32.6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which is projected to remain about the same.

Nevertheless, the county is only one of several entities that collect property taxes, with school districts, community colleges and municipalities among the entities that also collect significant amounts that factor into a property owner’s overall tax bill.

The county board set Wednesday, Sept. 5, as the public hearing to consider the budget.

Commissioner Ron Schmidt, along with Dick Johnson, roads superintendent, and Nancy Scheer, county clerk, led the budget discussions.

Schmidt said the general fund expenditures include more than $1.5 million from the 2017-18 fiscal year budget carried over into the 2018-19 fiscal year budget. That consisted of funds not spent for various reasons, such as an expenditure budgeted to be paid over more than one fiscal year.

Some of the other notable expenditures discussed Tuesday but not previously reported include:

* Projected expenditures for court-appointed attorneys were increased about $90,000. That’s in part because defense attorneys’ pay has increased 20 percent, and the county has hired new contractual attorneys who will be used when the public defender has a conflict. Because this is the first year of specific contracted attorneys, it is unknown how much this expenditure will be compared to overall past expenditures, and an overall increased amount on defense attorneys was projected to protect the budget.

* Setting aside $30,000 to budget for the possible purchase of a building for the planning and zoning department to expand, including storage space for other departments that use the zoning building.

* The county’s roads and bridges fund is scheduled to have almost $9.2 million spent, which is about a 3.6 percent increase over the past year. It includes such things as equipment, armor coating, patching, contracts and more.

* Even with about $1 million of inheritance tax being projected to be used, the county will have about $2 million left. The funds are used to provide a cash reserve.

Some major projects budgeted include:

* About one-half mile of asphalt on North 37th Street near Lutheran High Northeast.

* Three miles of overlay on 61st Street from Highway 275 to Nucor Road.

* Two miles on Green Garden Road.

* About %-I of a mile of new concrete for South 37th Street near Norfolk.

* Concrete overlay on Old Hadar Road.

* Madison North Main Street, which is north of the courthouse to Highway 81.

* About 1.5 miles of concrete overlay near Meadow Grove.

* Elkhorn River stabilization near Tilden.

* Various small bridge replacements

* Reconstructing Benjamin Avenue from Victory Road to Highway 35 and converting it to three lanes.

As it usually does, the county board also approved increasing the restricted funds authority from the previous fiscal year by 1 percent as permitted by statute. The vote was 3-0 to approve it.

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