Archive for Tuesday, April 3, 2007

County ponders revenue options

Sluggish growth causes commissioners to weigh tax increases

April 3, 2007


Funding for major initiatives in 2008 will be difficult to support without raising the mill levy or finding other revenue, the Douglas County Commission was told Monday.

That news came as commissioners began preliminary discussions about preparing next year's budget.

A slower real estate market and slower growth than in past years will affect revenue, as will the state's removal of tax on business machinery and equipment, County Administrator Craig Weinaug said.

"Before, we were always able to take on two or three (new) initiatives," Weinaug said. "That will be increasingly difficult now."

Real estate property tax growth is averaging 3 percent to 4 percent after averaging 6 percent increases the past few years, Weinaug said.

The loss of machinery taxes is 6 percent of the total property tax base.

"We're in very good financial condition, but we have to be careful about adding initiatives," he said. "We might have to have a tax increase."

Commissioners were not chagrined to hear Weinaug's message.

"I don't think that's a particularly grim scenario, it's just not as rosy as it has been," Commission Chairman Bob Johnson said.

Weinaug will recommend a budget to commissioners in June, and they will begin the annual review process.

In a related matter, Commissioner Charles Jones told county engineer Keith Browning that he would like to see a 25-year capital improvement plan for bridge replacement.

If a bond issue is needed to catch up on bridge work, then it should be done in the next two years, Jones said.

There are 160 bridges in the county.

In other business, an incentive package for completing renovation of the Lecompton bridge ahead of the Aug. 10 deadline was increased today by the commission.

The contractor, A.M. Cohron & Son Inc., will receive $10,000 for each day the job is completed early up to 15 days, or $150,000. Last month, commissioners capped the incentives at 10 days or $100,000.

"I was just wondering if it would be possible for them to finish it even faster," Jones said. "Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but we can at least hold out the cash."


oldvet 11 years, 2 months ago

It is far too much to think that a government entity think like a business or even a household... When income starts falling short of expenses, one big option is to REDUCE spending! eliminate those things in the current spending budget that are "nice to have" and "quality of life" and keep those things that represent infrastructure services for all and are the "required to have". Here's a hint... look at your current income projection, if it falls short of your expense budget, then reduce the department budgets until you have an excess income situation. Keep that excess (maybe 5-10%) for those emergency situations on a case-by-case evaluation. Raises stop... I know that is unthinkable to government employees, but it really happens in the real world when times are tight. Budgets are cut... we'll have to figure out how to be more productive. Good times and a stronger tax base will return... until then let's tighten the belt instead of bleeding the people...

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