Sups say lower tax rate

A 25-cent decrease in property tax rates for rural residents is called for in the final budget approved by the Webster County Board of Supervisors Thursday.

A public hearing to approve both the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, and a budget amendment to the current FY 2014 budget, will be 10 a.m. March 4 at the Webster County Courthouse.

Webster County Auditor Carol Messerly said the decrease in tax is due, in part, to the ongoing redesign of mental health services in Iowa, and partially because of changes to the commercial/industrial property tax rate that will be paid back by the state.

A tax rate of $9.81 per $1,000 taxable valuation will be applied to rural areas, down from the current year’s $10.05.

Within the county’s urban areas, the tax rate will be $6.51 per $1,000, down from $6.53.

The supervisors on Thursday approved the salaries for elected officials as recommended by the compensation board. These include:

Sheriff, $82,000, an increase of 5 percent,

Supervisors, $35,000, an increase of 0.9 percent,

Auditor, treasurer and recorder, $62,000, an increase of 5 percent,

Attorney, $97,000, an increase of 5 percent.

The compensation board said these increases would bring the officials’ salaries closer to 17th highest in the state. Webster County has the 17th highest population in Iowa.

The supervisors suggested a 2.5 percent increase for the deputies in those departments, and based budgets for the departments on that assumption.

The supervisors can determine the overall funding of a department, but salaries are determined by each department head, said Supervisor Clark Fletcher.

The total budget was for $35,561,321, an increase of about $3 million from 2014’s estimate. Projected revenues are $30,755,921, about $23,000 less than the current year.

The county’s total ending fund is projected to decrease from $11,979,993 to $7,174,593, accounting for the difference between revenues and expenditures.

Messerly said the actual amounts spent by the end of the year are often less than budgeted.

The fiscal year 2014 budget amendment is necessary because of increases in services at Webster County Public Health, some capital projects and re-estimates for secondary roads overseen by the Webster County engineer’s department.

Public Health’s budget changed significantly in the past year, in part because it acquired North Central Home Care when that organization closed. New responsibilities and new hires led to both higher expenditures and higher revenues in that department.

County Engineer Randy Will said the secondary roads re-estimate was simply to move some line items around. It doesn’t represent any new expenses.