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Board keeps levy at same rate as past six years

Cass County commissioners Tuesday, Dec. 17, set a variety of 2014 rates, including the levy, which will remain $20,046,613, the same as the last six years.

Administrator Robert Yochum informed the board Cass and all but three of eight neighboring counties will levy the same or lower amounts in 2014 as 2013. Only Morrison with a 2.3 percent increase and Itasca and Hubbard with 4.6 percent increases will raise their rates in 2014.

Statewide, 66 of Minnesota’s 87 counties will raise their levies in 2014, with the highest increase being a 14.5 percent in Clearwater County.

Cass’s tax rate, the multiplier by which property taxes are computed, will go up about 2.4 percent in 2014 to generate the same dollars, because the total county property valuation has declined in the last year.

That rate still is the lowest rate compared with Cass’s eight immediate neighbors at 30.994 percent. The highest neighboring rate for 2014 will be Wadena County’s 91.87 percent. Crow Wing’s rate is 35.286 percent.

Cass commissioners declined to raise their own pay in 2014. They gave employees a 2.5 percent raise, plus a step increase (equal to about 3 percent) for those who have been employed less than 10 years.

Commissioners were paid a $24,326 annual salary in 2009, but they reduced that to $23,596 in 2010. It has remained there each year since then. Commissioners are also paid $75 per diem for each meeting attended, with the exception of the first meeting each month for which they receive no per diem.

That salary was about average for neighboring counties in 2013. Some neighboring counties pay a higher salary, but no or lower per diems. Some neighbors pay a higher salary to the board chair, which Cass does not.

The board approved a 2.5 percent raise for the county’s three elected officials. None of those officials will receive a step increase in 2014, because all are at the top (Step 10) of the county pay scale.

The county attorney’s annual pay will be $112,403. The sheriff’s pay will be $96,949. The recorder’s pay will be $70,034.

The commissioners authorized continuing to pay board appointees to committees and commissions $75 per meeting, plus mileage. This includes citizen and board representative appointees. By state statute, appointees to the civil service commission cannot receive pay, but do receive mileage.