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Hubbard County Board approves 5 percent levy increase

At its Dec. 13 truth-in-taxation hearing, the Hubbard County Board set the final levy at $15,007,000 — a 4.9 percent increase from last year.

In September, county commissioners approved a preliminary payable 2019 levy of $15,144,000, which was a 5.9 percent increase over the 2018 final levy of $14,300,000.

The general fund levy is $8,248,349, with the road and bridge levy at $2,900,000. The county social services levy is $2,750,000. Debt levies include $629,055 for the county correctional facility bond and another $271,596 in general obligation bonds. The regional library levy is set at $208,000.

The final 2019 budget breaks down as follows:

• General fund revenue is projected at $15,571,222 with $15,778,522 in expenses.

• Road and bridge revenue is $10,583,000 with $11,364,330 in expenses.

• Social services revenue is $7,047,029 with $8,267,655 in expenses.

• Solid waste revenue is $3,540,162 with $3,493,265 in expenses.

• Tax-forfeited land revenue is $2,154,013 with $1,863,775 in expenses.

The county's total revenue is $38,895,426 with total expenses of $40,767,546.

Hubbard County Auditor/Treasurer Kay Rave said general fund expenditures increased $710,835, or 5 percent, compared to last year. She attributed salary and wage increases and new county positions — an IT director and a staff position in human resources — as the main contributing factors.

Transit sales tax

The county board also held a public hearing about amending the local transit sales and use tax. The money is dedicated exclusively to improving county roads.

No one from the public was present.

The board originally authorized the .5 percent county sales tax in March 2015.

By Minnesota Statute, counties are authorized to impose a transportation sales tax of up to half of one percent after holding a public hearing. Hubbard, Becker, Cass, Crow Wing, Todd, Wadena and Beltrami counties are among the 42 counties in Greater Minnesota currently exercising this authority.

County Highway Engineer Jed Nordin explained, "We're nearing the end of our third full year of the local option sales tax. In order for these projects to be eligible for this funding you have to hold a public hearing, designate which projects those are going to be. That's the intent of the local option sales tax — they were project-specific. Once you had obtained enough funding, then you'd need to shut the funding off. Well, we've opted to continue the funding and continue to add projects into it."

Thursday's resolution to extend Hubbard County's transit sales tax also updated the list of transportation projects. It now includes newest five-year county road plan (2019-2023) and a supplemental project list.

"As the year has progressed, we've noticed there's more sales tax money coming in than was originally estimated," Nordin said. Tax proceeds were estimated at $900,000, but were $1.26 million for 2018.

As a result, Nordin proposed a supplemental list that includes the county's aggregate surfacing and liquid calcium chloride application for 2019-2023. The combined cost per year is estimated at $780,000 for 2019; $799,600 for 2020; $819,400 for 2021; $839,300 for 2022 and $859,300 for 2023.

Vern Massie, who opposed the transit sales tax in 2015, said his position had not changed. He cast the sole vote against the resolution.

In related business, the county board did the following:

• Set county commissioner's salaries at $23,925 — a $525 increase.

• Set commissioner's per diem at $85. This is the same as last year.

• Set the county planning commission/board of adjustment per diem at $150, the same as last year.

• Approved the county sheriff's salary of $99,400 (a 2.25 percent increase) and his 2019 budget. The sheriff office's revenues are projected to be $344,306 and expenses $2,640,258. Rave noted this includes four new squad cars. The budget also includes $50,000 for coroner, autopsy and transportation expenses, a line item that has been overlooked in the past, Rave said. General fund levy dollars will offset the sheriff's office budget imbalance.

• Approved the county attorney's salary of $108,700 (a 2.25 percent increase) and his 2019 budget.

• Set the Hubbard County Housing and Redevelopment Authority levy at $170,000 (the same as last year) and Headwaters Regional Development Commission levy at $116,070 (a decrease of $1,273).

• Set county committee member per diems of $50 per half day and $75 per full day.

• Set the Hubbard County Extension budget at $9,000, the same as last year.

• Set the 2019 reimbursement rate for travel for county business as the same as 2019 IRS mileage rate, as yet unpublished.

• Established the 2019 meal allowance rate for travel on county business as $7 for breakfast, $10 for lunch and $15 for dinner.

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