County proposes levy increase
Carlton County is proposing a 4.5 percent levy increase for 2019.
The proposed budget for 2019 is $64.6 million, including $25.3 million for the general fund; $15.75 million for roads and bridges; and $21.6 million for human services.
The proposed 2019 levy to meet the budget is $27.83 million, an increase from the 2018 payable levy at $26.64 million.
Total budget revenues for 2019 are expected to be $36.13 million. A small amount of the shortage, $694,741, will be drawn from the general reserves. The resulting preliminary levy amount that comes from property taxes is $27.83 million.
General operations has one of the largest proposed levy increases at 7.89 percent, or $252,613. According to County Auditor/Treasurer Paul Gassert, the increase is due to the rising costs of health insurance.
County Coordinator Dennis Genereau explained there has been a committee in place for about 18 months to explore the best options for health coverage for county employees. They look at a variety of information before deciding which company to choose to provide coverage. They are waiting to hear the final numbers from the companies.
Another reason for the increased costs is the annual increase in cost of living wages. According to Genereau, Carlton County employees' wages are comparable to mid-range wages for similarly sized counties.
Another notable levy increase is for the building maintenance department at $149,378, or 19.97 percent.
"This includes various building maintenance projects that have been put off for too long," Gassert said, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in the courthouse.
Animal control continues to be included on the budget, even though Friends of Animals Humane Society closed its operations this year. Genereau said it's still part of the budget in case another entity opens in Carlton County in 2019.
Carlton County Board Chairperson Susan Zmyslony thanked the finance committee members for the work they put into keeping the budget down.
"We ask departments if there is any place else they can draw money from," Genereau said. "Then we ask if they can cut costs anywhere else."