WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Tax Decrease Likely In Lee County

Jan 25, 2012

Lee County is projecting a slight decrease in its upcoming property tax rate.

The Board of Supervisors has spent the last few weeks putting together the county’s spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The latest draft shows a $0.13 decrease in the rural property tax rate, from $11.03 to $10.90.

There would be an even larger cut to the urban tax rate from $9.00 to $8.62.

This would mark the second Lee County budget in a row to feature a reduction in both property tax rates.

Chairperson Janet Fife-LaFrenz says that process was helped by the fact that the board requested bare-bone budgets from each department.

“All departments came in with some very careful planning,” says Fife-LaFrenz, “and had, for the most part, reduced their (requests) from last year.”

Fife-LaFrenz says staffing levels should remain the same, countywide, while almost every employee is in line for a pay increase during the upcoming fiscal year.

She says the budget includes funding for some capital projects, though they will primarily focus on short-term maintenance work.

The proposed $26-million budget does show a roughly $900,000 deficit.

Budget Director Cindy Renstrom says that will be covered by using reserve funds.

She says about $300,000 is related to an effort to reduce the balance of one account and boost another.

Lee County Engineer Ernie Schiller says a $470,000 deficit in the secondary roads budget is attributed to several projects stretching over fiscal years and some equipment purchases.

Fife-LaFrenz expects a public hearing on the budget to be held in mid-February.