The Cherokee County Board of Supervisors approved a budget for publication, subject to review at a public hearing prior to final approval.
The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 7 at 10 a.m. in the board room at the courthouse.
The proposal calls for an increase in property tax of about 16.6 cents, affecting both urban and rural property tax payers. This brings the total county tax rate per $1,000 assessed valuation to $4.36623 for urban areas and $7.61623 for rural areas.
This only refers to the tax for county government and does not include property tax for school districts, municipal government, community colleges, townships or the extension service.
The increase in tax results from an increase in the levy for mental health. The general basic levy and rural basic levy is not being increased.
Even with the increase in property tax, the county property tax is expected to be well below most counties. Unlike most counties, Cherokee County has no supplemental county property taxes, allowed for specified expenses. Currently only two of the 99 counties in Iowa have lower property tax for county government.
Part of the way Cherokee County has avoided supplemental taxes is by spending down reserves, which are expected to go down more than $200,000 during the fiscal year starting July 1, to just over $1 million.
There was considerable discussion about the need to reduce expenses for future budgets.
Terry Graybill, supervisor, noted that many workers in the private sector locally are taking home less money than a few years ago, not just adjusted for inflation, but fewer actual dollars. He said that cannot be said about county employees.
Ron Wetherell, supervisor, indicated that if the county is going to cut expenses it will need to come from payroll because that where the spending is.
Kris Glienke of the Cherokee County Auditor's Office noted that the budget as will be published prior to the public hearing will be misleading but that cannot be avoided. The total property valuation as certified by the state will have to be included along with the calculated revenue based on that valuation.
However, a settlement between the county assessor's office and the HyVee Distribution Center, Tyson Foods and two cooperatives is expected to reduce the total valuation in the county considerably and reduce total county revenue by about $39,000.
An adjustment to the budget will need to take place at a later date.
The estimated reserve of $1,012,000 at the end of the next fiscal year is based on the actual expected revenues after adjustments to total assessed valuation.