Carlton County Board approves preliminary levy
Preliminary levy continues downward trend of last few years
The Carlton County Board of Commissioners approved a 2% proposed levy increase for 2021 during the regular meeting Monday, Sept. 28.
The levy can drop lower, but not increase, said Dennis Genereau, county coordinator. He said the levy has been steadily dropping in recent years. The final levy for 2020 was 2.9%, and in 2019 it was 2.89%.
He explained that the two largest issues are insurance and the road use tax fund. Health insurance rose nearly $700,000, said Genereau.
County Engineer JinYeene Neumann said the road use tax fund decreased 11% from last year. The transportation department received $2.2 million for maintenance and $3.3 million for the construction fund in 2019 from the road use tax fund, she said. The department will cut projects when the budget for construction funding drops, but Neumann said when the maintenance fund decreases, the tax levy goes up to cover the amount.
“The maintenance fund affects our day-to-day operations, such as maintenance on roadways and snow plowing,” Neumann said. “The money needs to come from somewhere or there is a drop in services.”
District 4 and District 2 commissioners Mark Thell and Marv Bodie asked if there is enough cushion in the fund balance in case of emergency.
"We don't want to leave the fund balance short," Bodie said.
Genereau said the county has worked hard to conserve finances. He said departments only replace equipment when it's absolutely necessary and a hiring freeze has been in effect for several months.
“We are conservative when we spend,” said Genereau.
Kyle Holmes, county assessor, said an increase in new construction and a small increase in the valuation of local utilities should help balance out the 2% levy increase.
The Truth in Taxation meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8 after the 4 p.m. regular board meeting.