MADISON — The Madison County Board of Commissioners ended budget discussions Tuesday where they began — trying to keep the levy and the overall budget about the same as the previous year.
All things considered following a public hearing on Tuesday afternoon, they were mostly successful.
The overall budget increased from $49.5 million to nearly $53.3 million, which is up about 3.44%.
The final levy that was approved following a public hearing is 37.42 cents per $100 of valuation. That’s up from 36.99 cents the previous fiscal year.
If a homeowner’s valuation stayed the same, a property owner with a house valued at $100,000 would pay about $4.30 cents more in property taxes to pay for county services. The actual property tax change might be more or less as the county is just one of several entities that collect property taxes, with the school, city, Northeast Community College and others also collecting.
Overall, the other major factor in the amount of property taxes people pay is valuation. Madison County’s valuation went up to $4,390,064,651, which is a 3.27% increase over the previous year.
When budget discussions began in June, commissioners were dealing with several challenges. They included some lower end-of-year fund balances, several major capital upgrades that were needed, many road and bridge projects and some unknowns.
The 2020-21 fiscal year ended June 30, with the 2021-22 fiscal year starting July 1. The county used cash reserves to pay bills until the new budget was approved.
Commissioner Ron Schmidt said the county board was able to keep the levy lower by using a little more out of the inheritance tax fund than was originally projected.
“I hope that was a wise decision,” he said. “I made that motion. We hope we don’t have any unforeseen difficulties.”
Typically, the county keeps about $2 million in the inheritance fund in case of emergencies. This year it is about $1.7 million.
Schmidt said Madison County is diversified for its property valuation.
“Aren’t we fortunate that we don’t just rely on ag for a tax base?” Schmidt asked. “We have a wide variety of tax valuations. That is extremely valuable when it comes to challenging times that you aren’t relying on one sector of the economy.”
Madison County’s biggest valuation share is residential real estate property, which is 41.1% of overall valuation. Ag land next at 31.6%. Schmidt said when he began, ag land was slightly higher, so the county has become more diversified as more housing is being built, especially around Norfolk.
The third biggest area is commercial valuation, with 15.6% of the overall valuation.
Troy Uhlir, county board chairman, said he agrees that the county is fortunate to have diversity.
“There’s other counties around us that don’t have that diversity,” he said. “For them, the ag land carries the burden.”
While Madison County did experience major capital expenditures for a new phone system, HVAC system for the courthouse and funds set aside to merge the county and City of Norfolk 911 dispatch services, it did offset it with a decline of about 18% in the road and bridge fund.
The county was aggressive last year in resurfacing about 19 miles of asphalt roads but is projected to do about 7 miles in the coming budget.
Only one person spoke during the public hearings. His comment was, “I’m glad it isn’t going up any more than it is.”
The budget committee is made up of Uhlir, Dick Johnson, roads superintendent, Anne Pruss, clerk, and Nancy Scheer, former clerk.
The Madison County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday.
Members present: Chairman Troy Uhlir, Ron Schmidt and Eric Stinson.
Others in attendance: Anne Pruss, county clerk; Dick Johnson, roads superintendent; Sheriff Todd Volk, four from the public and two reporters.
Meeting lasted: Two hours.
— Recited the Pledge of Allegiance and had a moment of silence. Noted the open meetings law is posted and followed.
— Commissioners conducted a public hearing and voted 3-0 to approve the application of Christopher and Angela Sovereign to construct a home on less than 40 acres of property south of Battle Creek near the intersection of 547th Avenue and 838th Road. Nobody spoke in opposition to the request.
— Acknowledged receipt of the official bond of Doug Denney as secretary/treasurer of Sanitary & Improvement District 9.
— Approved a contract with gWorks for implementation of clerk/election “Commissioners WebGIS Tab,” in the amount of $10,325.
— Approved an agreement with the City of Norfolk to provide dispatch services to Madison County and all parties agree communications services will provided for both governmental units in a shared manner.
— Approved a substitution of pledged securities with Madison County Bank.
— Canceled checks payable to Norfolk GM Center, Fitzgerald, Vetter, Temple, Bartell & Henderson and the Hall County sheriff.
— Reviewed written reports and processed claims.