County levy up by 12 percent

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor


The property tax levy to support Allen County’s 2010 budget will increase 12 percent over this year’s, county commissioners concluded Tuesday.
The final budget, with authority to spend as much as $12,765,156, will require a levy of 64.092 mills, 6.867 mills more than this year’s.
The owner of a $100,000 home will pay $737 in property taxes with the increase. This year’s bill was $658. A hearing on the budget will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 25.
The final levy increase is about half what commissioners saw July 28 when they reviewed the initial document. Since then, they have reduced proposed expenditures in several areas to cut the levy by about 61⁄2 mills, more than half a million dollars from proposed expenditures.
The county budget is assembled by the county’s auditor, Rodney Burns, based on proposed expenditures made by department heads
and organizations that draw county support. Last week large cuts were made and a few more surgical reductions occurred Tuesday to reach final figures.
At $12,765,156, next year’s budget authority is less than expenditures approved by commissioners a year ago. In August 2008 they approved a 2009 budget calling for expenditures of $13,596,552. Reductions in the current budget have been made to deal with shortfalls in revenue from interest on idle funds and cuts in state aid.
Chairman Dick Works noted the levy increase dealt with the two revenue shortfalls and to pay for 911 dispatch services, full control of which the county will assume in January. This year and before Iola and the county split cost of dispatch services in a cooperative effort at Iola’s city hall. An additional 2 mills of property tax income, or $183,000, will be required when the county becomes fully responsible.
Commissioners have not discussed raises county employees might be given under next year’s budget.
Works, in a quick review of department proposals, said it appeared most anticipated 2 percent, which would be about half of what was given this year.
“We don’t decide raises until January,” he said.
The county payroll will be about $3 million this year. A 2 percent increase would cost $60,000.

WITH NO objections during a hearing, commissioners approved vacation of the east half of a platted but undeveloped block of 16th Street at the east edge of Humboldt that lies in the county. Humboldt earlier vacated the west half.
They learned from Bill King, director of Public Works, that an inquisitive cat led to an $1,800 repair bill. The cat crawled into the engine compartment of a Bomag compactor at the landfill and when the operator started the machine’s engine, the feline whirled through fiberglass blades of the radiator fan, breaking several. The cat quickly used up all nine of its lives.
A utility vehicle was purchased for the sheriff’s department for $19,908, the lowest of three bids. The vehicle it will replace will be used by Jason Nelson, director of Emergency Medical Services, with a $13,000 budget transfer to the sheriff’s department.
Commissioners approved a request from Sheriff Tom Williams to attend a Federal Bureau of Investigation leadership seminar in Lawrence in September.
Nelson told commissioners that he and his crew handed out 200 Vials of Life during last week’s Allen County Fair and would make the containers available at senior centers and other venues.
The vials come with health questionnaires that may be completed and put the air-tight plastic vials for storage in refrigerators. A magnetic placard also is in the vials and may be attached to the outside of a refrigerator so EMS personnel quickly may access the information that could be vital to a patient’s treatment.