Dodge County approves budget, levy certification
Dodge County Commissioners approved a net levy of $12,694,159 at last week’s board meeting, an increase of 5.1 percent.
During the public hearing on the budget prior to approval County Administrator Jim Elmquist explained that several factors resulted in the increased tax levy including a two percent cost-of-living increase for all employees, a seven percent increase in health insurance for eligible employee and the first year of unadjusted pay-in for MnPrairie and issues related to Affordable Care Act compliance.
He said the county is also using $446,000 in fund balances to reduce the levy.
During the hearing two individuals addressed the board to talk about the increase in taxes in the county.
Charlie Molitor explained he rents land from Dan Ebenhoh in Canisteo Township.
Molitor told commissioners he farms in three counties, Dodge, Dakota and Goodhue and in Dodge County property taxes are rising while in Dakota County they are going down.
He asked if the county is doing everything it can to keep property taxes down as three percent of the crop revenue was going to pay taxes. The property tax rate, he said, affects the amount he pays to rent farmland.
Commissioners said they understood the problems agriculture faces in the county but much of the increase is out of their control.
Commissioner Rod Peterson urged Molitor and Ebenhoh to encourage farmers and farm groups to bring their concerns to the legislators.
“Get on the bus and go up to the Capitol to talk to the legislators,” Peterson said.
Board Chair John Allen said one of the issues facing the county is the mandates the state gives counties without providing the funds to deal with them. He mentioned state requirements for courtroom security as one example. If the security measures are not put in place, he said, the county could lose its judge.