WATERLOO — The Black Hawk County budget for the next fiscal year got unanimous approval Tuesday from the five-person Board of Supervisors.
The budget will most affect residential property owners, said Finance Director James Perry. Residential property owners in the county’s incorporated areas will pay $10.81 in taxes per $100,000 in assessed value, a 3.1% increase from last fiscal year. Rural residential owners in unincorporated areas will pay $5.96 per $100,000, a 1% increase. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
The urban tax rate increased by 4 cents and the rural tax rate decreased 17 cents from last fiscal year. All county residents pay the urban tax rate, and the rural tax rate is an added amount charged to rural residents for extra services.
Agriculture land owners will pay $10.11 in taxes per $100,000, a 1.8% increase from last fiscal year.
Property taxes increased in total by 1.8% from last fiscal year, which amounts to more than $653,000. The majority of county revenue comes from property taxes, which make up 58.5% of total revenue, Perry said.
The county’s overall taxable dollars in Black Hawk County increased by 1.3% from last fiscal year, amounting to more than $523,000. Perry said the county expects it lost $615,000 in revenue during the current fiscal year due to COVID-19.
Perry said the state rollback contributed to the increase in tax rates for county residents. Residential properties will see a 1.3% increase and agricultural land or buildings will see a 2.5% increase in the tax rollback rate from last fiscal year. Commercial and industrial properties will see no change in the rate. Multi-residential properties will see a 3.8% decrease in the rate.
The county will see a decrease of 0.28%, or more than $189,500, in salary and benefit expenses. Perry said the county saw a sizable number of retirements in the last fiscal year, and younger hires fall lower on pay scales. Health insurance expenses for county employees did not rise.
Black Hawk County approved a lower budget amount for capital improvements, Perry said, which was an effort to keep the tax rate lower.
The Board of Supervisors previously voted to cut about $99,000 in the health department’s requested funds for next fiscal year. Supervisors Linda Laylin and Chris Schwartz voted against the move, which took away money that was intended to support an epidemiologist to track disease during COVID-19.
Schwartz said Tuesday he worries the cut will hinder the health department’s ability to modernize and gain federal accreditation. The distinction would mean the health department is meeting nationally recognized public health standards to provide essential services. The Black Hawk County Health Department is currently undergoing the process.
The accreditation could open more opportunities for Black Hawk County to get grant funding, Schwartz said.
Supervisor Tom Little said Tuesday he expects next year for the Board of Supervisors to formally vote on guidance for the finance director, who works with department heads to formulate budget proposals.
“We did have some concerns and disagreements with one department for the second year in a row, and hopefully next year the board will give the county finance director clear instructions on what the board is looking for,” Little said, referencing the health department.
Laylin said Tuesday that she felt budgeting was a “good process” and was proud. She said the county exemplifies a “culture of collaboration,” which is outlined in the Board of Supervisor’s 2028 vision.
Laylin said in early February she was disappointed by “disrespect on both sides” of the health department funding talks.