Commissioners increase levy and budget for 2014

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

The Morrison County Board finalized the 2014 levy and budget with unanimous votes for a levy with an increase of 2.33 percent and a budget with a 1.9 percent increase, Tuesday.

The levy was approved at $16.6 million. The general fund will receive $9.2 million, the largest share, a 2.72 percent increase. Social Services will receive $3.2 million, a .06 percent decrease. The highway fund will receive $2.95 million, a 1.6 percent decrease. The building debt retirement fund will receive $829,153, an increase of 21 percent. The solid waste fund will receive $221,631, an increase of 15 percent. The building fund will receive $113,942, a 7 percent increase. The park fund will receive $52,822, an increase of 4 percent. The Historical Society fund is set at $34,183, a 2.6 percent increase and the Ag Society fund is set at $31,904, a 1.5 percent decrease.

The budget was approved at $38.6 million. Budgeted expenses include: general fund at $15 million, a 2 percent increase; road and bridge fund at $9.7 million, a 10 percent decrease; Social Services fund at $8.9 million, a 1.6 percent increase; solid waste fund at $3.6 million, 54 percent increase; debt retirement fund at $909,621, a .6 percent increase; building fund at $125,000, an 8.7 percent increase; park fund at $67,948, a 4.9 percent increase; Historical Society fund at $37,500, a 4 percent increase and the Ag Society fund at $35,000, no change.

“The increase in the solid waste budget and levy is due to the construction of a new cell (the space occupied by compacted waste and cover material), something that is currently budgeted to use fund balance that had been saved for this specific reason,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber.

The debt retirement fund portion of the levy increased 21 percent due to a shift in financing. The budgeted amount only increased .6 percent.

“In 2013, we received more grant money for the 800 megahertz project than we originally figured,” said Gruber. “We used the excess funds to pay debt instead of using levy money. So for 2014, we levied for the entire debt payment.”

In addition to the 43 percent portion of the budget that the levy covers, revenues are budgeted to come from federal and state sources at 36 percent; user fees at 13 percent, fund balances at 4.5 percent, interest at .5 percent and other revenue at 3 percent.

“We could have used reserve funds to bring the levy down, but then we’d be trying to catch up,” said Commissioner Kevin Maurer. “We don’t want to go there. There were union contracts settled with increases and cost increases that have to be covered.”

“Let’s face the music,” said Commissioner Jeff Jelinski. “Not one person in the county wants to see an increase. But it’s just doing business, and that’s why I support it.”