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lowers tax levy 8 cents

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 11:03 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 11:04 a.m. CDT

A public hearing with the Union County Board of Supervisors is scheduled for March 10 for the county’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-15.

The tax levy will be lowered about 8 cents per $1,000 of valuation — from $13.79 to $13.71 — if the budget stays at the proposed amounts.

“We paid off about $1 million in bonding,” said Union County Board of Supervisor’s Chairman Dennis Brown. “We were able to lower what we charge the taxpayers for debt service ... because we are paying our debt down and that is helping a lot to lower that levy.”

The new budget is highlighted by the shift in mental health from a county to a regional service, several major road and bridge projects and the replacement of the park ranger’s house at Three Mile Lake. (See related story, left)

“No one owns this county that sits at this table, we all work for this county,” said Supervisor Lois Monday. “That is what we do best is work for the county.”

The lower levy also comes after supervisors approved a 2 percent cost of living increase and 3 percent wage increase for elected officials and most courthouse employees.

Union County Attorney Tim Kenyon and Sheriff Rick Piel received a 3.5 percent wage adjustment in addition to the 2 percent cost of living increase.

“Everything just kind of fell into place and we were able to make that work,” Brown said. “It doesn’t always happen that way and we have seen that in the past.”

Mental health

Union County will merge with Adair, Adams and Taylor counties to create Southern Hills Regional Mental Health starting July 1.

Since October, Union County has been cutting down about $900,000 of unpaid state bills. As of February, Central Point Coordinator (CPC) Director Lori Nosekable said the county’s mental-health debt has been reduced to about $300,000 and is on pace to meet the July 1 deadline.

“When the new region starts July 1, all of the counties monies will be pooled into the region,” said Supervisor Ron Riley. “We want a good fund balance to start.”

Union County’s mental-health service is paying the bills with money from the general fund. That money comes from a state-mandated levy on property tax, which comes in every March and September.

Secondary roads

Should the weather cooperate, Union County Engineer Steve Akes said the major project for the upcoming fiscal year is a rehabilitation plan to Cromwell Road and High and Dry Road.

“That should take care of the bumps,” Brown said. “It sure is irritating driving down those roads with a bigger vehicle, especially one that is empty.”

There are also two major culvert projects on the REA Road.

“We all have the same goals in mind,” Brown said. “We can quibble over dollars, but at the end of the day, I think everyone is pretty comfortable with it (the budget).”

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