Goodhue County commissioners push for lower levyGoodhue County Board members were happy to see a lower levy proposal before them at Tuesday’s meeting, but decided to cut that amount even more.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County Board members were happy to see a lower levy proposal before them at Tuesday’s meeting, but decided to cut that amount even more.
Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday for a preliminary levy of about $26.9 million, a $250,000 or about .94 percent increase.
Staff proposed a preliminary levy of $27.15 million, a 1.76 percent increase, at Tuesday’s board meeting. But commissioners were wary of that amount.
“Traditionally the preliminary levy is the final levy, despite requests to make it lower,” Commissioner Ted Seifert said.
The final levy will be set mid-December. The number can go down, but not up, from the preliminary one set Tuesday.
The first draft of Goodhue County’s 2013 budget showed a levy increase of 4.54 percent over last year, but staff and commissioners have been working to bring that down.
“At this point I can’t get to zero,” Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said. “But I know we can do better.”
One area commissioners explored was squad car replacement. The 2013 draft budget included 12 squad cars scheduled for replacement, and Tuesday’s had nine.
The sheriff’s department came up with a plan for the squad cars that evens out the number that need to be replaced each year and utilizes funds from other sources. But commissioners still thought some cars could wait, and Rechtzigel suggested eliminating another two squads from the 2013 plan.
“I just think we can stretch a couple of those vehicles another year or two,” Commissioner Ron Allen agreed.
But Allen and Board Chair Richard Samuelson voted against the motion for the .94 percent levy increase.
“I’m really surprised by the change of mood here,” Samuelson said. He said he is in favor of saving money as well, but “the main reason I’m here as a commissioner is to serve.”
Staff will work out the budget details now that the preliminary levy amount has been set.