Taxpayers in Yellowstone County will probably see an increase in the countywide levy of 12.63 mills, about 11.3 percent increase in the number of mills, over last year. About two-thirds of that increase is due to a voter approved public safety /County Attorney levy, according to County Director of Finance Kevan Bryan during the first of two public hearings on Tuesday, that are held in setting the budget for county government each year.
Tax revenues are budgeted at $51.8 million, (before accounting for possible protests), an increase of $4.33 million over last year (9.1%).The increase is largely due to the increase in the taxable value in the county for new construction of almost 1.77 percent and because of the Safety-County Attorney levy, and an inflation factor of 0.82 percent.
The County has taxing authority of about $1.55 million more which they are not using..
The final budget must be adopted no later than the first Thursday in September or 30 days after the State provides certified taxable values.
Bryan explained that a decline in the overall valuation of property in Yellowstone County created increases to all levies for the different taxing jurisdictions within the county. Much of that decline is because of adjustments made to the property valuation for the refineries and others protesting their taxes.
Tax year 2014 assessments were upheld, and 2015 – 2017 had a 10 percent reduction in the amount originally billed. “While this resolution provides significant relief and more certainty in our budgeting, even this reduction is material, given the taxpayer’s [CHS Refinery] status as being the largest taxpayer in the County,” explained Bryan.
Non-tax revenues show a decrease of almost 17 percent compared to FY18’s original budget. “This is wholly due to Fy18’s receipt of bond proceeds, counted as revenue, to complete our voter approved jail expansion,” said Bryan.
An increase in licenses, fees, charges, fines and interest-earned of 5.33 percent is anticipated.
Total projected expenditures amount ot $116.6 million, a decline of 2.66 percent.
Staffing levels are budgeted to increase 3.5 percent, almost completely due to continued public safety and judicial related needs, including staffing of the new addition to the jail. Of the total 16 FTEs projected to be added, 13 fall into that category.
As the building and remodeling of the jail and of county offices and courts is completed this coming year the 2020 budget should see a decline in capital expenditures, said Bryan.
The Board of County Commissioners is being presented with a budget that shifts some discretionary mills to help support Extension, museums and Metra Park’s capital improvement fund in preparation for work that is expected to be found necessary as a result of a study that is being done of the facility’s infrastructure.