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Cass County: Board sets levy at 2.49 percent increase

Cass County commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 5, set the county's preliminary 2018 levy at $22,307,860 or 2.49 percent higher than the $21,766,554 levied for 2017.

The county's tax rate will rise 1.71 percent at that dollar amount to 32.285, up from 31.742 this year.

Cass County's citizen budget committee, composed of one appointed citizen representative from each commissioner district and Commissioners Neal Gaalswyk and Dick Downham, recommended the levy amount after reviewing department head requests for 2018 and comparing those with 2017 revenues and expenses.

While there was a decrease in overall department requests for 2018, the county expects some of its non-levy revenues also to decline, Administrator Joshua Stevenson reported.

The levy and proposed budget do not set aside a contingency fund for 2018.

The propose 2018 budget at this time takes into account the county now expects to have $418,000 from its local option sales tax to put toward lowering the levy dollars.

Stevenson said the committee has recommended the county begin putting $75,000 each year into its capital fund to keep the county from having to borrow the whole amount needed to eventually replace the courthouse complex.

While the county board has no target date for building, Stevenson said the $75,000 is a small amount toward the millions a new building complex has been projected to eventually cost.

The budget committee will meet again in October with department heads to determine whether any of their 2018 costs can be lowered or delayed. If there are some savings, Stevenson said the budget committee has recommended the board add that to the $75,000 set aside for future capital projects.

Under state law, the county can lower its 2018 levy later this year but cannot raise it above the amount set Sept. 5. The county board expects to hold a public hearing on the budget and levy before setting the final levy in December.

Cass commissioners also set separate levies for Longville Ambulance District and for the unorganized township area. Those levies are not countywide but only paid within the service districts.

The board raised the Longville Ambulance levy in 2017 from $442,642 a year to $503,000. That levy will remain at $503,000 for 2018.

The $245,000 levy for the unorganized township area also was set the same for 2018 as it is in 2017.