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Supervisors get proposed budget

BY CARTER CRANBERG | FEBRUARY 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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Citizens of Jonson County will be happy to learn that they will be paying nearly the same amount on taxes as they did last year.

During a Johnson County Board of Supervisors meeting on Thursday, the Department of Finance presented its proposed budget for fiscal 2015. The budget, which includes several major construction projects and conservation funding, among other things, will amount to roughly $97 million.

Finance Administrator Dana Aschenbrenner noted that due to the assessor raising the value of Johnson County properties, tax levies have now been better distributed over the tax base. This will raise the amount collected without affecting taxes themselves.

The supervisors expressed satisfaction with the proposal.

“We’re doing a lot of roads projects, adding hours to ambulances, and helping the conservation effort,” Supervisor Chairman Janelle Rettig said. “I think the budget is pretty status quo; I mean the levy rate is pretty much the same. We’re going to get a lot done without a dramatic increase in taxes.”

Aschenbrenner noted that a referendum passed in 2009 calls for the county to allocate $20 million by 2030 for land conservation and improvement. Until now, this has gone unaddressed.

Aschenbrenner said this has been factored into the budget in order to not create problems in the future.

The supervisors allocated $1.35 million of the $97 million for the Conservation Board. The board intends to give $1.35 million per year, for the next 15 to 16 years, to prevent strain on taxpayers.

Rettig was happy to point out when this referendum was passed, it was estimated citizens would be seeing a $26 increase in taxes; however, due to the recent increase in property value and levy redistribution, citizens can look to paying a raise slightly short of $20.

The money for the conservation project is to be borrowed from Hill’s Bank with minimal interest. In doing so, the county will be able to add the sum to a debt levy, a move that will draw the funds from pre-existing revenue incomes rather than raising taxes.

Retting said the county needs to act and borrow this money as soon as possible.

“We’re four years behind with this conservation bond,” she said. “Our air and water quality need to be improved through this, an issue that has been repeatedly voiced by citizens. We needed to get going, because we’d have to pay more per year to play catch up if we waited longer.”

Aschenbrenner intends to have the proposal completed and up for public viewing later this weekend or Feb. 10 at the latest. Once up, the only changes allowed on the budget are cuts.


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