FAIRMONT - Martin County commissioners did not lower the 2013 property tax levy at the Truth in Taxation meeting held Thursday.
The meeting was intended to let citizens voice their opinions on the levy hike - set at 6 percent - but those who attended wanted to discuss their assessed property values, something not on the agenda.
Nevertheless, County Auditor Jim Forshee presented the county's 2013 budget, totaling $21.7 million. Among the reasons highlighted for the levy increase were a loss of state aid, lower investment income, more requests from Human Services, and higher public safety and prisoner expenses.
Forshee said the increase in public safety costs comes largely from a change in the way fuel for sheriff's vehicles is budgeted.
"The leases for the deputy vehicles used to include gas cards," he said. "[Leasing agencies] figured out that wasn't in their best interest when gas prices went up, so the leases now don't have gas cards."
An increase in the number of prisoners being sent to neighboring facilities also has increased, as no females can be held in Martin County, and there is only room for 25 males.
To limit the levy hike, commissioners used $434,470 from reserves.
The levy increased from $10.8 million to $11.4 million.
The board will finalize the levy at its Dec. 18 meeting.