County’s early budget proposal calls for levy hike

Homeowners in Washington County may pay a little bit more in property taxes next year. The county board got its first peek at the proposed 2015 budget last week, which calls for a nearly $90 million tax levy -- an increase of 3.49 percent over 2014.

According to a Washington County news release, the proposed levy increase would have an average homeowner paying $43 more in the county’s portion of property taxes in 2015. The recovery of property value also contributes to the increase in payable taxes. The county’s median-value home will be worth $232,600 for the 2015 year; that value is 13.5 percent higher than the same home last year. 

Next year’s preliminary budget includes operating expenditures of $152 million, an increase of 2.6 percent over 2014. Part of the increase in operating expenditures will go toward salaries for seven new employees, bringing staff numbers back to pre-recession levels. County employees will also see a bump in pay and increase in benefits, which were largely flat for four years during the Great Recession. Other expenses contributing to an increase in operating expenses include technology upgrades and efficiencies to modernize business practices.

County board members will review budget information from each department through August. A vote on the preliminary maximum levy is set for Sept. 9. After the preliminary levy has been approved, the county board may lower the levy but cannot increase it.

The final levy and budget will be approved in mid-December.

-- Joshua Nielsen


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