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."