Supervisors propose county budget

BY KATIE HEINE | MARCH 03, 2011 7:20 AM

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Johnson County residents will see a 23 cent drop in their tax levies for fiscal 2012 if the Board of Supervisors approves a budget proposal presented Wednesday night.

Tax levies now sit at $6.99 per $1,000 of valuation.

“We could have raised taxes more, but we used some of our rainy-day fund to balance this out,” said Supervisor Janelle Rettig.

The supervisors will likely approve the $76.7 million budget at its formal meeting next week.

Public safety and promoting human services were some of the major themes of the budget, said Supervisor Terrence Neuzil.

“The budget is a reflection of the county’s priorities,” he said.

Nearly 75 cents of the levy will go to the Joint Emergency Communications Center, an agency that provides emergency services for the county.

The 2012 budget includes a roughly 29 percent funding increase for the Joint Emergency Communications Center.

With such a high increase, the supervisors had to decide whether to cut services, increase taxes, or dip into their reserves. They decided to do a little bit of everything.

Implementing an account clerk in the auditor’s department and a medical examiner investigator would help reduce over-time costs, supervisors said.

Adding an assistant county attorney will increase revenues by $51,000, according to the proposal.

An additional patrol deputy would be added, which supervisors said would be beneficial. The Sheriff’s Office has 26 deputies on staff, and it would like to reach 30 so there is a ratio of 1 deputy per 1,000 residents.

The county is also exploring some “green” initiatives.

Nearly $15,000 was proposed to implement an employee van pool program that would allow county employees to travel to work in fewer vehicles, thus reducing their carbon footprints.

The proposal also includes the hiring of a grant writer for $35,000.

“There are more than 135,000 people in Johnson County with different wants, needs, and desires,” said Supervisor Rod Sullivan. “It’s a give-and-take process and it’s that way every year.”

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