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Wadena County Board approves preliminary levy

The Wadena County Board approved a preliminary 2006 Property Tax Levy for Taxes Payable in 2007 of $6,769,970 at a special meeting Tuesday.

The funds will be distributed as follows: $3,537,340 for general revenue, $1,415,000 for road and bridge, $1,734,385 for social services and $83,245 for the library.

Lane Waldahl, chairman of the board, emphasized that the numbers are only preliminary.

The levy includes a $100,000 building reserve fund. County commissioner Bill Stearns said there were some surprises in the final budget last year, although they turned out to be good ones. He said the board should be prepared in case there are any bad surprises this year.

In a Sept. 6 budget meeting, Stearns said the courthouse needs major repairs.

"We're going to have to do some remodeling in this house, that's for sure," said County Commissioner Orville Meyer, agreeing with Stearns.

County Commissioner Mary Harrison said the heating system in the courthouse has run 15 years beyond what it is supposed to.

Meyer said the board should set a preliminary levy increase of 4 percent that will allow some room for downward fluctuation.

The levy is the revenue the county acquires from property taxes and the budget is the department expenditures, said Char West, auditor.

Individual budget items include:

• The out-of-county prisoner boarding budget will remain at $60,000 for 2007, although the county is on pace to spend $72,000 for this year. Stearns had suggested in an earlier meeting that Sheriff Mike Carr request $100,000.

• County Attorney Kyra Ladd's budget was increased by $11,000 to allow her to hire a full-time assistant county attorney. The hiring would alleviate the need to hire private law firms to do county work.

• The three-quarters-time 4-H coordinator position was decreased to half-time.

• The board added $20,000 to the Ag Society budget for fairground building repairs.

• The commissioner's salaries came up in the Sept. 6 meeting with Waldahl suggesting the salaries be raised. In the past the board has budgeted more for their salaries than what they have actually been paid, he said. Waldahl would like to split up the funds that they have been budgeting.

The board has until Truth in Taxation in November and December to make cuts in the budget, said Char West, auditor.