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Black Hawk County budget cruises to approval

Black Hawk County budget cruises to approval

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WATERLOO — Black Hawk County government held its property tax increase below a single percent for the coming year.

Members of the county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, which calls for just 0.5% growth in overall tax collection.

The budget raises the tax rate slightly but results in a tax cut for residential property owners due to changes in state “rollback” figures shifting the burden onto business owners.

It also allows the county to hire deputies for additional courthouse security, a social worker to work with jail inmates, and beef up its technology services based on recommendations from a survey earlier this year.

“I think we’re passing a good budget here today,” said Supervisor Chris Schwartz. “I think the new social worker in the jail is going to do a lot of good for this community and help with recidivism.”

Supervisor Linda Laylin noted the budget continues to fund road and bridge repairs and improvements to trails and conservation facilities.

“We’ve hit a lot of important areas in our community for our residents and trying to improvement their quality of life, and at the same time keeping an eye on the taxes and trying to keep our taxes low,” Laylin said.

Supervisor Tom Little supported the budget but said he was concerned about increasing capital budgets and hiring new staff.

The budget included about $2 million in additional costs, largely due to across-the-board 2.75 percent wage increases and some of the new positions and contracted services. But it mostly was offset by a $1.1 million drop in the county’s debt payments and $700,000 reduction in the mental health services levy.

The budget raises the county’s share of urban property tax rate from $6.30 to $6.33 per $1,000 of taxable property value. The rural rate — a higher amount paid on property in unincorporated areas not subject to a city tax bill — goes from $9.88 to $9.98 per $1,000.

The owner of an urban home with an assessed value of $100,000 will see the county’s share of their property tax bill drop from $359 to $349. The same home in the rural area would see the county’s share of their bill fall from $562 to $550.

Commercial and industrial properties will see a 0.5% increase in county taxes under the proposed budget. Agricultural property will see an average 2.6% increase in county taxes.

The Board of Supervisors only sets the budget at tax rate for county government. City councils, school boards and several smaller taxing bodies adopt their own budgets and levies.

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