Wright County Board Minutes


DECEMBER 9, 1997, 7:00 P.M.

Commissioner Mattson called the Public Hearing to order. Mattson stated that the purpose of the hearing was to discuss the Taxable Certified Levy and Proposed Budget for 1998. The Assessor's Office was open to assist individuals with questions regarding property tax statements. A Truth In Local Taxation handout was provided to those in attendance. A video entitled, "The Reasons Property Taxes Go Up And Down" was shown.

Richard Norman, County Coordinator, reviewed the figures making up the total Proposed Budget for 1998:

Budget Amount % Change
General Revenue $18,856,099 9.0%
Road and Bridge $14,738,683 37.2%
Human Services $13,426,800 -5.3%
GRRL $ 955,712 5.0%
Debt Service $ 1,665,316 -0.1%
Lake Pulaski LID $ 37,000 -38.3%

Total proposed budget: $49,679,610

The total Proposed Budget of $49,679,610 represents a 10.8% increase from 1997. The Road & Bridge budget reflects a 37.2% increase. This budget fluctuates depending on maintenance and road construction projects. In 1998, there will be a significant number of road projects which deal with ISTEA and State Aid monies. Although the budget is up, the impact to County taxes is relatively low.

Darla Groshens, Auditor, presented the Local Share Increases of the 1998 Proposed Budget:

Budget Amount % Change
General Revenue $10,297,391 8.8%
Road and Bridge $ 2,264,092 3.6%
Human Services $ 4,648,000 2.2%
GRRL $ 955,712 5.0%
Debt Service $ 1,665,316 -0.1%
Lake Pulaski LID $ 37,000 -38.3%

TOTAL $19,867,511

Less: HACA $ 2,191,017

NET TAXABLE LEVY: $17,676,494 - increase of 5.2%

THE NET TAXABLE LEVY OF $17,676,494 reflects a 5.2% increase from 1997. The Lake Pulaski LID reflects a decrease of 38.3 %, and Groshens stated that only those who reside on Lake Pulaski pay this portion.

Norman continued by reviewing three major areas of the General Revenue Budget which reflected major impacts from 1997 to 1998. The first was Budget 063, Management Information Services increasing from $436,333 to $504,402, which primarily reflects an increase due to the County's effort to keep up to date with technology and to keep the workforce as efficient as possible. The next, 071, Elections, is projected to rise from $8,550 to $51,797. The Budget is impacted due to 1998 being an election year, where 1997 was not. The third area involves four departments in the Criminal Justice System: 013-Court Administration; 201-Sheriff; 250-Corrections; 255-Court Services. Budget increases in this area for 1998 amount to $476,000 of the total increase in the General Revenue Budget or an increase of 3.8% . A great deal of effort is being generated in Wright County toward the Criminal Justice System.

Norman referenced Budget 820, Non-Departmental. Under 6100-Personal Services, he said the current amount is $18,945 but the projected 1998 amount is $725,000. Over the course of each year as union contracts are settled and health benefit increases are realized, the $725,000 is spread to various departments in the General Revenue fund. Budgets 6605-Site Improvements, Courthouse went from $150,000 to $475,000 and 6616-Public Safety Information System went from $275,000 to $0. In 1997, the County purchased a building to house the Human Services Department, and $475,000 is earmarked toward that improvement. In 1997 a Public Safety Information System was purchased for the Sheriff Department, which the County hopes to take final acceptance of after the first of the year. Personnel requests for 1998 were also highlighted.

Projected revenues are used to help offset the budget expenditures to assist in keeping the levy as low as possible. In 1998 the projected total revenues are $7.5 million in the General Revenue Budget only. The 1996 tax levy for the Road & Bridge Budget was $2,175,258 and the projected levy for 1998 is $2,264,092, reflecting only a 4% increase. The increase during this time period is less than the rate of inflation. In 1998, a new Highway office building will be constructed. A portion of the expenditure will be paid out of the Capital Reserve Account in the Road & Bridge budget. The Reserve for Capital Outlay Fund has a balance of $595,351 with another $262,421 being added to it in 1998. This will help to reduce the amount needed from bonding and also keeps the levy as low as possible while capital improvements are being done. The total levy for Road & Bridge is $2,264,092. Comparison of the highway construction program show State Aid Projects in 1997 projected at $1.87 million whereas in 1998, that figure is projected at $4.6 million. This accounts for a majority of the increase in the Road & Bridge Budget.

The Human Services Budget reflects a decrease in expenditures of 5% from $14,175,800 in 1997 to $13,426,800 in 1998. All intergovernmental revenues are projected to decrease. The local levy is projected to increase to support the budget.

The hearing was opened for questions by the public. Dale Griffin, St. Michael, questioned whether the County is looking toward ways to cut the budget. He also referenced the large expenditures for highway improvements and questioned if there were ways to use better material or efforts to try to preserve roads. Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, said the Highway Department does strive to look for improvements in operations and follows closely research being done in all aspects of transportation engineering. There are 520 miles of roadway in the County, and Fingalson said that Wright County is one of only several counties to have everything paved. Maintenance does come at a price however, coupled with the growth the County is experiencing. He explained the Pavement Management System which allows review of road structures. This is a nondestructive test which simulates the effects of trucks on roads and helps to determine capacity of roads. Public meetings are held to help determine which roads will be improved. State funds are factored in each year for maintenance of roads. Even though $14 million is budgeted for 1998, Fingalson said this only results in $2 million in local property taxes to deliver the identified program. He also felt Wright County may have to look toward a second shift for snow and ice control. Rose explained the budget process to Griffin, stating that the Board starts the process in July of each year. Proposed budgets from each department are reviewed by line item. A goal is set for the maximum local levy increase felt to be reasonable, and budgets are cut until they reach that amount. Russek said the Wright County Department Heads bring forth sound budget proposals. Jude referenced the video shown and said the County is subject to State and Federal Rules and Regulations. The County is driven by those residents who live here and the services they require.

There being no need to schedule a Continuation Hearing, the meeting was adjourned at 7:42 P.M. with the understanding that the 1998 Budget and Certified Levy will be presented to the County Board for action on December 16, 1997 as part of the Subsequent Hearing.

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