The Watonwan County proposed gross net levy will be $7,893,222 in 2014, an increase of 5.3 percent over the 2013 rate, according to the financial statement discussed during the county board's Truth in Taxation public hearing Tuesday evening.
That five percent amounts to about $400,000, and County Auditor Donald Kuhlman said that $400,000 is broken down basically into two halves. “$200,000 is to use less reserves, and $200,000 is for debt.”
“In 2014, we're using less fund balance than 2013,” he continued. The county is also purchasing two motor graders, borrowing funds to revamp the Human Services building, seeing a nearly 10 percent rise in health insurance costs, and giving county employees a three percent raise.
Recently, there's been a massive increase in farmland prices, and the tax capacity number for 2014 is $20 million for the county--up from just over $15 million in 2013, he said. “Agriculture land is now paying 82 percent of the tax bill for the county; it was 75 percent in 2013.”
A huge hunk of the budget is going to road and bridge projects in 2013, said County Engineer Roger Risser. “We have robust construction planned for 2014, and we haven't done something like this for years.”
For the full story, with more details on the 2014 budget, please see today's print edition of the St. James Plaindealer.