LS County Board approves tax levy & budget for 2011

Jake Keohen, Staff Writer

The Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners approved the 2011 property tax levy and budget following a public hearing held Tuesday evening, Dec. 14.

The levy shows an increase of 1.08 percent, while the overall county budget is down by 6.44 percent.

County Administrator/Engineer Darrell Pettis said the somewhat contradictory increase/decrease in the county financial picture can be attributed to a matter of accounting, primarily involving the highway department budget. Also, there are some surrounding counties with similar minor levy hikes and budget reductions as they attempt to minimize the increase and provide some cushion in case of additional losses in state aid.

Le Sueur County saw a reduction of $328,000 in program aid from the state in 2010, and the future is unknown. The state has a huge budget deficit that may not find balance in the near future, and as a result some governmental units are gearing up for operating without any program aid.

The final tax levy for 2011 is $13,163,543, which is an increase of $140,771 or 1.08 percent, the same as the preliminary proposed figures approved in September. The total county budget is $27,972,891, which is down 6.44 percent from the 2010 figure of $29,895,431.

Prior to the vote for final approval of the levy and budget, Commissioner John Grimm of Montgomery introduced a motion to establish a 0 percent levy increase, citing the economic times, unemployment, responsibility to taxpayers, etc., but the motion died for lack of a second. The levy/budget as presented was approved 4-1, Grimm voting against.

Five staff members and five residents were present for the hearing. There were no comments or questions from the audience, with property valuation concerns referred to the county assessor's office.

The board also:

• Approved Chuck Retka's request to cross Ney Park with a snowmobile trail.

• Accepted a donation of a small island on Lake Emily to the county park system from the Estate of Lloyd Ludwig.

• Approved a five-year bridge plan for replacement of several county bridges with sufficiency ratings less than 80, as recommended by County Administrator/Engineer Pettis.

• Directed Administrator Pettis to schedule a public meeting for input on taking an inventory of the German-Jefferson Sewer District, since a large state grant is available. There are approximately 900 septic systems in the district.

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