County levy set to increase a max of 3.73%

This chart shows the history of levy changes over the last five years in Wadena County. Courtesy Wadena County

Wadena County commissioners unanimously approved a preliminary 2021 levy of $9,670,670 during their Tuesday, Sept. 15 board meeting.

The levy shows an increase of 3.73%, or about $347,617 of property taxes over the 2020 levy. Costs in Public Health, Building Fund, Road and Bridge and Human Services under the levy were unchanged, but revenue saw an increase of 5.86%.

Much of the increases for the preliminary budget can be tied to salary and wage increases in the county, whether by payroll increases or added staff. As an example, the sheriff’s department is showing an expected increase of about $100,000 in their staff wages out of a $2.26 million budget.

The increase in the levy was at one point around 9%. The budget committee has worked to bring that down.

“We knew when we started around that 9 or 10% mark that there needed to be some tweaking to make sure that was not the property tax levy,” Auditor Heather Olson said.


Committee members said they would continue to work on some items to bring the levy down further. Now that the preliminary levy maximum is set, it can only go down before being finalized later this year, or in the words of Commissioner Jon Kangas, “It can’t get any worse.”

The county is dipping into some reserves as certain services were not used with the onset of COVID-19. Dipping into those reserves will help provide some relief to the levy.

In other actions, the board approved consent agenda items including:

  • The county will not be participating in the optional payroll tax deferral. All payroll taxes will remain the same.

  • Updating of the policy concerning COVID-19 exposure.

  • Appointing Dr. A Quinn Strobl of the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Anoka County as the Medical Examiner for Wadena County effective Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2022.

  • Approval of final payment for SAP 080-600-004 to Braaten Aggregate of Bertha, MN in the amount of $11,315 for work to resurface a half mile of gravel road leading to North Germany Wildlife Management Area.

  • Approval of final payment for SAP 080-612- 011, SAP 080-620-009, SAP 080-626-023 & SAP 080-666-002 to Central Specialties Inc. of Alexandria, MN in the amount of $273,802.64.

  • Approval of replacement hire in the transit department. Transition from part-time to full-time for James Cooper, driver, $17.18 per hour, start Date 9/8/2020, Grade: 48, Step: 8, yearly gross salary: $35,734.40, total salary and employer contributions (taxes & benefits): $55,956.

  • Renewal of the liquor license for Hville Op Inc. DBA The Outpost beginning on 10-1-20.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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