WINONA – The total assessed value of property in Montgomery County increased by $1.2 million this year, providing additional revenue for the county in a tough statewide and national economy. This year, the county’s value is $61,082,544, up from last year’s $59,880,014.
According to Tony Green, budget specialist with North Central Planning and Development District, Montgomery County was fortunate to see an increase in property values.
“The state decreased the value of agricultural properties,” Green said. “The change did not affect Montgomery County like it did other counties.”
Green, who has assisted the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors with the county’s annual budget for many years, said the increase in property value will increase the value of on tax mil $1,200 this year to $61,082.
Friday, Green met with the board of supervisors to go over a preliminary county budget that includes a three-percent pay increase for all non-elected county employees. If the board agrees to the pay increase and every request from every department, the county would need to find an additional $54,445 in revenue through either a .91 mil increase or by using rainy day funds.
However, the proposed budget is still being discussed by the board with plans to meet on August 10 to further mull it over. A public hearing will be held at a later date after the board agrees to move forward. A final budget will be adopted after the public is allowed input.
“It has been three years since employees have had a pay raise,” Green said.
The proposed budget for the general fund – the fund used to operate nearly all county operations – shows an increase of $164,177 this year, from $3,828,962 to $3,993,138. Most of the increase is due to the three percent pay increase across all departments for non-elected personnel. Elected officials’ salaries are set by state statute.
As for other increases in various departments, there is a $3,512 increase to the debt services line item for the board of supervisors to cover an increase of $5,000 to the principal of one of the county’s notes.
In the tax assessor/collector office, the proposed budget shows the promotion and pay increase of one employee to bookkeeper. It also requests $10,800 to pay maintenance contracts for holding the annual tax auction online, as it did this past March. However, March’s auction brought in an addition $16,000 from overbids, which will offset the cost of the maintenance contracts.
In the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Jeff Tompkins is requesting a $1 per hour increase for all deputies. The $1 per hour increase, which is proposed to include the three percent pay increase for all county employees, will cost the county an additional $8,193 if approved. In addition, Tompkins is requesting an additional $5,000 for law enforcement supplies like ammunition and a $3,600 increase in the line items for tires.
The sheriff’s department also will see a new expense this year for the eForce System, a law enforcement case reporting system mandated by the state that was put into service by the county this fiscal year. The department will be responsible for paying $4,250 in maintenance contracts for the system.
An increase of $8,400 has been requested by the county prosecutor’s office to fund the statutory secretarial allowance of $1,000 per month as mandated by the state.
At the Montgomery County E911, the board must decide if it will purchase new telephones and consoles for dispatchers to use at the Montgomery County Emergency Operations Center. Green said the request is due to the current system being discontinued. That means an end to technical support and the purchase of replacements if needed.
The general fund budget also reflects revenue from a $10,000 DUI grant to fund overtime for county deputies for DUI enforcement and a $20,000 seatbelt grant to assist with seatbelt enforcement.
Outside the general fund, the county is mulling a $38,581 increase for the Montgomery County Coliseum. The increase includes funding a full-time assistant director position plus fringe benefits, as well as contract labor at the concession stand. The increase will be funded by revenues acquired by rental and use of the coliseum.
In the road department, the three percent pay increase for all non-elected personnel and debt service for the purchase of motor graders in 2018, a total of $67, 125, will be offset by decreases in gasoline, diesel, and heavy equipment.
Green said the financial health of Montgomery County is good thanks to cash reserves and a low debt ratio.
“Value increasing is good,” Green said. “Some counties showed values down. Cash reserves are good, and debt ratio is good. There are a few bond issues, but as far as comparing, Montgomery County has a lot less debt compared to other counties.”