Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Jim Orr
The Observer 

County Makes Cuts, But Taxes Inch Up

Drop In Revenues Last Year Challenged Budget Makers

 

September 12, 2019



Spending is down a bit and the tax rate up nearly 2 cents for every $100 of property valuation under the $32.45 million Kimball County budget that the board of commissioners approved Sept. 4.

For the owner of a $100,000 home, annual county property taxes will increase from about $426 to $445.

Board members Daria Anderson-Faden, Larry Engstrom and Brandon Mossberg voted unanimously to pass the spending plan.

County budget officer Josi Morgan told the Observer that the county found itself in the position of needing to raise taxes although spending will decrease because it opened the fiscal year July 1 with a balance that was down $249,000 due to reduced revenues from property taxes and other sources last year.

“The tax increase had to do with last year’s revenues being down,” she explained. “We started out with less money.”

Over the course of the summer budget workshops, Morgan said the county whittled $500,784 in cuts from such areas as legal expenses, inmate boarding, insurance, fuel, repairs and equipment purchases. The result was an overall operating budget that decreased to $32.45 million from $32.57 million.

Nevertheless, the county’s property tax request rose to about $3.16 million from $2.99 million. The tax rate will increase 4.59 percent to about 44.5 cents from 42.5 cents per $100 of valuation.

For the most part, Morgan said the budget is “pretty status quo” without many changes.

“In this whole thing,” she said while holding the printed budget of 100-plus pages, “there wasn’t a very large increase”

But certain functions factor heavily in overall county spending. Kimball Health Services accounts for $13.28 million of the spending plan and Kimball County Manor for $4.88 million. And much of the $5.05 million general fund is devoted to roads and law enforcement.

One expected expense involves remodeling the Kimball County Transit Service building on 3rd Street.

Morgan said the county bought the property for a “good price” of $38,000 in March, but the structure has water damage and the cost for a new roof and remodeling should easily climb into the six figures. She said a federal grant is expected to reimburse the county for 80 percent of those costs.

 

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