Faribault Co. levy hike at 4%

BLUE EARTH — Faribault County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the county’s budget and property tax levy for 2018.

The preliminary levy was set in September at a 4.75 percent increase, with a plan to identify what in the budget could be reduced. At the September meeting, Auditor John Thompson said it may be possible to bring down the levy increase by about 1 percent.

One large item for the 2018 budget is Health and Human Services, which is at a 15 percent increase from 2017. Darren Esser of the Auditor’s Office said this is mostly due to out-of-home placement costs. At an increase of $360,000, the Health and Human Services fund makes up about 75 percent of the levy increase.

The rest of the levy increase, said Esser, comes from an increase in capital expenditures for the grounds and buildings department, as well as the addition of a road deputy at the Faribault County Sheriff’s Office.

To bring down the levy increase, unfilled personnel positions were cut from the budget, along with a proposed vehicle purchase for the Planning and Zoning department. Thompson said it is likely that the vehicle purchase will appear in the 2019 budget.

Esser said he believes the county is at a good place with the new budget.

“The cuts we made weren’t terribly controversial, in my opinion,” he said.

Following the truth-in-taxation public hearing, the commissioners set the property tax levy at a 3.9 percent increase.