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WATERLOO — Black Hawk County is lowering its share of next year’s property tax bills.

Members of the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 that lowers overall tax collection by 1.4 percent.

There were no comments during a public hearing on the spending plan, which will affect property tax bills due in September.

“We had different personalities,” said Supervisor Dan Trelka, who completed his first budget process after being elected in November. “We had different philosophies, we had different political affiliations, but we came together on a good budget.”

Supervisor Linda Laylin said the budget maintains the county’s good financial condition.

“Our reserves our high — and we’ve talked about needing to decide what to do with those — but they’re very healthy,” she said. “Our bond rating is good.”

The sale of the Country View care center to a private firm Dec. 31 played a big role in the budget process this year. The supervisors had budgeted a $2 million tax subsidy for the county-run care center in the current year, which was removed from next year’s budget after the sale.

Laylin noted the move allowed Country View, now called Pillar of the Cedar Valley, to stay open and for workers to remain employed while caring for residents.

Several board members said they didn’t get everything they wanted from the spending plan.

“I’m not real happy with some of the things that happened with the budget, but we’ve got it done,” said Supervisor Craig White.

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Board chairman Tom Little supported the budget despite losing his bid to spend down general fund cash reserves to lower property taxes even more.

“I think overall it’s a good budget,” Little said. “But I think those reserves are too high.”

Supervisor Chris Schwartz said he was pleased a remodeling of the county veteran affairs offices at Pinecrest stayed in the budget.

“The thing I’m most excited about in this year’s budget is the creation of the veterans center,” he said. “We’re going to help a lot of people out in this community.”

The budget includes 2.5 percent raises, plus step increases, for unionized county workers; 3 percent raises for nonbargaining employees; 4 percent raises for the county attorney, auditor, recorder and treasurer; a 5 percent raise for the sheriff; and 2.5 percent raises for the supervisors.

The plan lowers the county’s general property tax rate, which is paid by all property owners in the county from $6.69 to $6.30 per $1,000 of property value. The rural levy, which is an additional amount paid by those not paying municipal taxes, would increase from $3.50 to $3.57 per $1,000.

Based on those rates, a homeowner in a city will see the county’s share of their property tax bill fall 3.6 percent, which is a reduction of $13.48 for a $100,000 home.

A homeowner in rural Black Hawk County will see the county’s share of their bill dip just under 1 percent. Commercial and industrial property owners will see a 5.8 percent tax cut, while farmland will see a negligible tax reduction.

Those amounts do not reflect any changes in municipal and school district tax rates, which generally make up a larger portion of the overall tax bill than dollars collected by the county government.

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Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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