Friday, September 21, 2018
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County commissioners ask officials to make cuts

Departments make changes to hold the line

 LEXINGTON—Counties have a five-cent limit on how much they can raise the property tax levy from one year to the next.

Most of the initial requests that came from Dawson County departments for the 2012-13 budget would have fit under that five-cent lid.

“But the commissioners refused to raise the levy a nickel,” said county clerk Karla Zlatkovsky.

So departments were asked to find areas to cut.

Some found sizeable chunks to take out. Others did what they could with smaller bites.

In the end, Zlatkovsky said the county board will consider a minimal increase in expenses and a slight raise in levy when they vote on the budget during their regular bimonthly board meeting that begins at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.

Overall, the county holds the line on spending with an increase of only $87,685 in budget expenditures, or .33%.

That’s after the roads department took out big bucks intended for road repairs and the sheriff’s department agreed to wait for a new roof on the 20-year-old jail.

“It’s not like the commissioners don’t see those things as necessary,” Zlatkovsky said. “It’s just that they recognize we can’t do it all this year.”

Other departments took things out of their budgets too, she said, they just didn’t amount to as much.

“Everybody came back with some type of cut,” Zlatkovsky said.

Even with a 7.5% increase in the tax asking this year, the budget is still squeaky tight, the clerk said, with no major purchases in sight.

Revenue has decreased with the lack of state aid, dropping nearly $500,000, while expenses continue to skyrocket.

“It’s just like everyone else,” Zlatkovsky said. “Fuel and utility costs are killing us. What we put in the budget is simply a guess.”

Last year, commissioners were able to drop the levy slightly and still meet the county’s needs.

This year it will increase 1.43%, or a little over half a cent per $100,000 in property value.

Property owners are likely to see more of a jump in their tax bills, though, as valuation is up nearly 7%.

“I think the budget is as conservative as it could be,” Zlatkovsky said. “Nobody wants to see program cuts.”