The property tax levy rate to support Adams County government looks to increase by about 10% for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The team of county officials who prepared the budget — Highway Superintendent Dawn Miller, zoning administrator Judy Mignery and information technology coordinator Ron Kucera — presented the proposed budget at the Adams County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.
The proposed tax levy rate is .300555, or just over 30 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which is an increase from .272327 last year.
That means for property valued at $100,000, the owner would pay $300.55 in property tax to support Adams County compared to $272.32 last year.
The .300555 levy rate doesn’t include funding for political subdivisions including townships, rural fire districts and the Adams County Agricultural Society, which collectively must keep their asking under 15 cents.
The county is looking to transfer $1.3 million from its inheritance fund to the general fund for operations.
No action was taken on the budget Tuesday, but the public hearing to address the budget was set for 10 a.m. Sept. 1.
The county has until Sept. 20 to submit its budget to the state.
The county’s operating proposed budget is $36.58 million, which is a 12% increase from $32.69 million for 2019-20. The county’s total property tax request is $11.59 million, which is an 11% increase from $10.46 million last year.
The budget committee asked department heads to keep budgets down as much as possible, which they did.
Again this year, most increases within budgets were due to rising wages and insurance costs. Some departments even submitted budgets that were less than the previous year.
While departments are holding the line, the amount of available funds going forward is decreasing.
“Everybody’s holding the line to their budgets, which means they’re not over-budgeting,” Miller said. “So our revenues are basically holding the line, so to say. Everything we’re estimating to spend, we’re spending it.”
One reason the levy rate is increasing is that valuation is stagnant.
The countywide valuation only increased about $15 million — $3.855 billion, up from $3.84 billion last year. That increase is less than half of 1%.
The budget committee said the lack of growth is due to declining agricultural land values.
City, utility and railroad valuations did increase.
Valuations for the city of Hastings increased by about $79 million — $1.535 billion, up from $1.456 billion in 2019 — which represents about a 5.4% increase.
“We’ve been fortunate in the past because valuations were going up,” said Supervisor Scott Thomsen, who serves on the budget committee.
Funding for roads projects also increased.
“All these roads projects, you have to have infrastructure,” Thomsen said. “If not the county won’t be able to function. It’s wisely spent money. Even though the levy went up it’s very beneficial to the county.”
An interlocal agreement hadn’t been signed as of Tuesday morning, but budget committee chairman Chuck Neumann proposed raising the library fund from $167,772 last year to $205,000.
Neumann said Hastings Public Library Director Amy Hafer provided library usage statistics, showing rural residents represent 20% of library usage. The proposed increased library fund amount is 15% of the library’s overall funding request.
City residents pay less property taxes to the county because the library is supported by the city’s general fund. County residents pay slightly higher taxes to the county for the Adams County library levy, which doesn’t apply to residents of the city.
The net effect is the city gets money from the county as per the interlocal agreement and uses it supplemented by the general fund to operate the library and bookmobile for both city and county residents.
In other business, the supervisors:
- Voted 7-0 to approve, as the Board of Equalization, tax list exemptions including five replacement vehicles for Hastings College and three vehicles for Mid-Nebraska Individual Services.
- Unanimously approved directing the treasurer’s office to issue county tax sales certificates for delinquent properties, which totaled about 30.
- Unanimously approved appointing Lindsay Higel to serve on the Adams County Convention and Visitors Bureau board. Higel replaces Jody Jacobi, who completed her second four-year term in June.
- Unanimously approved an agreement between Adams County and Heartland Pet Connection for animal boarding and care related to court cases at a cost of $7,000 for up to 100 animals.
- Unanimously approved a resolution to amend the county’s accrued vacation time policy giving county employees more time to spend accrued vacation time if they were unable to use it previously due to the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
- Unanimously approved waiting to take further action on the isolated land hearing concerning land west of U.S. Highway 281 and north of Cimarron Road owned by Maxine Strasburg and the Ronald D. Strasburg Testamentary Trust until the petition in error filed by a neighboring landowner is ruled on in district court.