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Proposed county budget calls for 12-mill increase

By Staff | Sep 3, 2009

Pierce County residents can expect a hike in county property taxes next year as a result of a 12-mill increase in the 2010 budget, according to Karin Fursather, county auditor.

Last week the county commission reviewed the proposed budget, which includes an increase in mills for social services and emergency snow removal, as well as two mills set aside for correction center expenses, if necessary. One county mill generates roughly $14,600.

The county’s total fund levy won’t be determined until Fursather receives final figures from the state tax office relating to utility costs.

The commission could trim the budget before it is formally passed on Oct. 6. Prior to passage, a public hearing on the budget is scheduled at 10 a.m. that day.

Why the increase?

-This year’s budget didn’t require the county to levy as many mills for social services since it had a reserve to work with. Much of that reserve has been spent, however, so the county needed to levy five or six additional mills in the 2010 budget to cover the county’s social service budget.

-The excessive snow accumulation last winter added thousands of dollars in expenses to the county for snow removal. County officials decided to set aside two mills in next year’s budget toward emergency snow removal costs, if necessary.

-Two mills were set aside to cover correctional center expenses. The county would tap into those funds if the facility, which is leased to the county by the Rugby JDA, is unable to cover monthly expenses, including loan repayments. The first payment is due in October.

Budget highlights

-The proposed budget does include full family health insurance coverage for all full-time employees. Blue Cross Blue Shield, the health care provider for the county, announced earlier this year its premiums would go up about 26 percent over the next two years. It’s estimated the premium hike will add approximately $50,000 in expenses.

– All full-time employees will receive a $25-a-month pay increase, and part-time employees will also receive a bump in pay which will be pro-rated. Corrections and treatment center employees also receive the same wage increase, since they are county employees, but their payroll and health insurance costs are covered in the facility’s own budget.

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