Cass levy rises along with property value

WALKER - With the taxable value of property in Cass County rising for the first time in eight years, the county board voted Tuesday to increase the dollar amount it will levy in 2015 for the first time in six years.

WALKER - With the taxable value of property in Cass County rising for the first time in eight years, the county board voted Tuesday to increase the dollar amount it will levy in 2015 for the first time in six years.

Properties with new construction in the last year largely will pay the $136,356 increase to a total 2015 levy of $20,182,696 (seven-tenths of one percent rise) after the county receives an anticipated $814,742 program aid from the state.

That total levy includes the $461,000 levied only in and for the Longville Ambulance Service District, which is unchanged from 2014.

The board also approved the total 2015 final budget.

That budget anticipates receiving additional revenue beyond the levy from state and federal grants, user fees, licenses and forfeitures for $52,836,805 total receipts.


Cass County gets 39.3 percent of its annual revenue from the property tax levy, 25.4 percent from state grants, 9 percent from federal grants, 6.9 percent from fees and charges, 17.5 percent from miscellaneous sources and 1.9 percent from interest earned on investments.

The budget proposes to spend $52,638,202 and sets aside $443,603 in a contingency fund for emergencies.

Cass spends 24.8 percent of its budget on health and human services, 22.3 percent on general government, 22.2 percent on highways and streets, 18.5 percent on public safety, 7.4 percent on conservation, 4.1 percent on sanitation and .8 percent on miscellaneous.

The commissioners also approved a $245,000 levy for the unorganized townships and a $300,000 budget for them. The county serves as the town board for the unorganized area.

Tim Richardson, central services director, obtained board approval to spend up to $100,000 on building repairs in 2015.

Some of the 2015 projects proposed are replacing courthouse blinds, replacing inoperable baseboard heaters and upgrading counters in the 1976 annex building, replace jail cell valves, upgrading heating system controls, adding glycol to health, human and veterans services building boiler system, replacing broken sidewalks, replacing annex cupola and having windows washed.

Richardson said if some projects cost more than anticipated, others could be delayed or reduced in scope. With a $100,000 repair budget annually in recent years, Richardson said he thinks enough improvements have been made to county buildings that 2015 will be the last year he will need that high a building maintenance budget.

Chief Financial Officer Larry Wolfe obtained board approval to make several year-end fund transfers, including moving $5 million from the health, human and veterans services cash on hand account to the county's capital projects fund. The board sets aside money in a capital projects funds when there are a year-end balances.


This practice has enabled the county in the past to pay for new buildings rather than to have to borrow money to build new buildings. Other times, it has been used to supplement bonding.

Cass currently has close to $12 million in its capital projects fund and no debt.

The board approved a 2015 new equipment list, with most items computer-related.

In addition to vehicles the commissioners approved at the last meeting for the sheriff's department, the board approved three trucks for the highway department and putting $141,735 aside toward future highway equipment, one vehicle for the land department and $38,000 to replace health, human and veterans services vehicles.

Wolfe obtained board approval to hire a firm in 2014 to review the county's employee cafeteria plan insurance offering to see how it compares with neighboring counties and how well it complies with the federal Affordable Care Act.

Administrator Robert Yochum reported he has begun 2015 wage package negotiations with the county's five union employee bargaining units. The current contract expires at the end of this month.

Employees will continue to be paid under the expiring contract until a new one is signed for 2015 and any future additional years. Any 2015 wage increases would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2015.

The board does not set new wages for non-union employees, elected officials or the county board until after the board settles union contracts.


Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson informed the county board Tuesday she expects the county will earn about $89,000 more interest on investments than the $774,000 projected at the beginning of 2014.

She obtained board approval Tuesday to review the county's investment policy in 2015, which has not been reviewed in depth since 2007.

The board approved paying citizen members of county committees $75 per day for their services. That is the same per diem the commissioners pay themselves for meetings other than the first meeting of each month.

Related Topics: CASS COUNTY
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