MADISON — After weeks of discussions and revisions, there were few unknowns Wednesday when Madison County considered its 2019-20 fiscal year budget.
The Madison County board of commissioners reviewed the budget and explained it during a public hearing, pausing several times to ask the few members of the public and a couple of reporters if they had questions. There were few.
After about 30 minutes, the county board voted 3-0 to adopt the $45.8 million budget and tentatively estimated the levy at 37.92 cents per $100 of valuation. The final levy will be approved at a future meeting.
The budget has increased 16.1 percent over the 2018-19 fiscal year budget, which was $39.5 million.
Commissioner Troy Uhlir, who served on the budget committee, said the budget would require $15,409,717 in property taxes. That’s an increase of $2,122,306 from the $13,287,441 in property tax required in the previous budget, he said.
With the anticipated levy of 37.92 cents per $100 of valuation, the county levy will be increasing from 32.65 cents per $100 of valuation.
Uhlir said the budget increases are generally due to $5 million of bonding road projects and repairs to roads and bridges from flooding in March.
The budget includes $1.5 million in projects directly related to flood damage.
“We’re not sure when we will see the FEMA money back,” Uhlir said. “We hope it is timely, but chances are that it wont be.”
Highlights of the budget include:
— Certified property valuation of $4,063,031,583. That’s a slight decline of $6.5 million from the previous year and the first time valuation has declined in Madison County since 1997.
— Although the levy is projected to increase to 37.92 cents, it is well below historical highs. Since 1990, there have been 14 times the levy was higher than 40 cents, including a high of 47.9 cents in 1997.
— The property taxes on a $100,000 house to fund county operations for 2018 was $326.51. The same homeowner will pay $379.27 in property taxes for 2019 — provided there was no change in valuation.
— The budget includes 15 miles of asphalt resurfacing, which is up from the 6 miles typically completed in a year. The county has about 205 miles of asphalt.
One of the questions commissioners sometimes get asked is how come an individual’s valuation went up if the county’s valuation went down.
Uhlir said valuations consist of various classifications, including agricultural land, which has overall gone down since the days of $7 a bushel corn. Meanwhile, residential housing valuation has increased, which is based on the prices of homes sold.
Commissioner Christian Ohl said it is a little concerning to have decreased valuations, but keep in mind that while some valuations went down, others have increased.
Ag land has decreased proportionally overall in the size to fund the budget, which is now about 35 percent of the budget. Ohl said when adding in ag personal property and ag buildings, it rises to about 40 percent, which is the same portion of residential housing. Residential housing makes up about 40 percent of the county budget revenue, Ohl said.
Commercial property makes up about 13 percent of the county revenue, he said.
Commissioner Ron Schmidt said Madison County is fortunate in that it has a strong agricultural real estate base, along with strong residential housing in Norfolk and the other towns.
“We’re a diversified county,” Schmidt said. “We’re not relying on one classification for the revenue for the county. It’s spread out.”
Schmidt said the county is trying to avoid having any asphalt roads ground back to gravel.
“We need to look at the roads as an asset, an asset that hopefully becomes more valuable as time goes on. We expect to be a growing county,” Schmidt said.
The Madison County board of commissioners met Wednesday.
Members present: Chairman Ron Schmidt, Troy Uhlir and Christian Ohl.
Others in attendance: Nancy Scheer, deputy county clerk; Richard Johnson, county highway superintendent; four from the public and two reporters.
Meeting lasted: One hour, 50 minutes.
— Met as a board of equalization and approved tax list corrections.
— Authorized implementation of wage increases for county employees during the pay period that includes Oct. 1.
— Approved a special designated license for Miretta Vineyards & Winery, dba Miletta Vista Winery, for a wine tasting and bottle sales event scheduled on Nov. 23-24, at Divots Conference Center in Norfolk
— Authorized the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department to provide flu shots to county employees.
— Acknowledged the following petty cash amounts as of June 30 in county offices: County Assessor: $80; County Attorney: $50; County Clerk: $25; County Court: $400; Public Defender: $56; County Sheriff: $2,821; County Treasurer: $945.
— Approved a sub-award agreement with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for the Child Support Enforcement Program from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2020, and authorized the clerk of the district court to electronically execute the agreement.
— Approved final documents and receipt of payment from Gary and Pat Tillotson for the sale of the former Veterans Service building at 130 S. Fourth St. in Norfolk.
— Authorized the county board chairman to execute the drawdown document to request funds in the amount of $150,000 for Site and Building Development Funds for King Steel Corp.
— Approved additional pledged securities with Elkhorn Valley Bank and Trust.
— Approved a substitution of pledged securities with Madison County Bank.
— Received a report from Kathy Nordby, CEO of Midtown Health Center, in celebration of National Health Center Week and 10 years as a federally qualified health center.
— Reviewed written reports and processed claims.