Carver County adopts 2014 preliminary levy

Carver County Commissioners adopted the 2014 preliminary property tax levy at the Sept. 3 Board meeting.
The proposed levy supports a significantly higher budget that will fund a new Highway 101 bridge project and new employee positions while decreasing county taxes on the average-value home.
“This is the ninth year in a row that owners of an average-value home — a home valued at $263,000 in 2014 — will pay less in county taxes compared to the previous year,” said County Administrator David Hemze.  “We’ve been able to meet that direction from the Board while developing a budget that will enable the County to move forward with construction projects and staffing needs to serve our population that continues to grow.”
The preliminary budget calls for an increase from $88.5 million in 2013 to $161.5 million in 2014. A large portion of the increase, an estimated $76 million, will go toward the new Highway 101 bridge and intersection reconstruction. Revenues from the State and other agencies will offset the cost of the project.
The budget increase also addresses the need for additional employees. Carver County cut 40 full-time equivalent (FTE) employee positions from 2008-2012. The 2014 budget calls for an additional 17 employees to bring the total number of FTE positions to 653. Employees will be added primarily in the Social Services and Public Works divisions and in administrative and technical areas.
“Over half of these new positions will be funded through additional revenue generated from County services, cost savings in other areas, and from outside funding sources rather than local tax dollars,” Hemze said.
For example, Hemze said revenue from additional customers at the Chanhassen License Center will offset the cost of a new position there, and the addition of an attorney who focuses on eminent domain issues will cut contracting costs.
The preliminary budget recommendation limits the 2014 levy increase to capturing the new-construction tax base and adds a 2 percent adjustment for inflation. As a result, the 2014 levy will be $47.5 million, which is an increase of $1.9 million (4.2 percent) over the 2013 property tax levy of $45.6 million.
In addition to the increased local tax levy, the budget includes $493,000 of new County Program Aid from the State and $616,000 of existing County Program Aid. These funds will be allocated to the General Fund to finance the increased cost of operations in 2014. The County anticipates receiving a total of $2.93 million in County Program Aid in 2014.
On the operating cost side, the cost for maintaining the same general level of services in 2014 will be offset by $489,000 in budget cuts, flat-lining non-personnel-related operating costs, and the addition of new revenue.
The County Board plans to hold a public hearing on the 2014 Budget on Dec. 5 and is expected to adopt the final 2014 levy and budget and the 2015 Long-Term Financial Plan on Dec. 17. When the County Board adopts the final levy in December, the actual levy can be lower than the preliminary levy, but it cannot be higher.
If you have questions about the County’s 2014 tax levy and budget or  Long-Term Financial Plan, please contact the County’s Financial Services Division Director David Frischmon at 952-361-1506. Information is also available on the County’s Financial Services Division page at www.co.carver.mn.us/department/finance/index.asp.

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