Commissioners Give Nod to 5.5% Tax Levy Boost in Landmark Decision

Commissioners Give Nod to 5.5% Tax Levy Boost in Landmark Decision

The Mower County Board of Commissioners approved the 2024 levy and budget during their regular meeting on Tuesday, just a day after voting to move it forward.

The approved tax levy increase is 5.5% or $1.3 million, generating $25 million in revenue for 2024, which makes up 39% of the overall budget.

Although higher than recent years, it was reduced from the initially proposed 18% at the beginning of the process. Nevertheless, it is the highest increase for the county since 2015, when a 7% tax levy increase was approved.

In recent years, commissioners kept levy increases small, including a 0.50% increase in 2021, supported by American Rescue Plan Act funds related to the COVID pandemic.

However, this year, the board faced challenges, including a 20% increase in health insurance costs, adding $500,000. A 6% market rate adjustment and general inflation costs also contributed to the increase. Despite this, commissioners managed to reduce the increase by making cuts and adjustments in various areas.

The board also discussed a cannabis interim ordinance and cannabis use in public spaces ordinance during the meeting. These will be voted on at the December 26 meeting.

The interim ordinance prohibits new cannabis businesses until January 1, 2025, or until repealed by the board. It also restricts licenses, permits, and planning and zoning applications but doesn’t affect the Medical Cannabis Program or existing THC product sales allowed under state statute.

Under the use code, however, it will be illegal to use cannabis products in public areas or “places of public accommodation unless the premises is an establishment or event licensed to permit on-site consumption of adult-use cannabis flower and adult-use cannabis product.”

It also says you can’t use it around kids.

The state set January 1, 2025, as the deadline for cities and counties to establish long-term and meaningful rules after allowing the use of recreational cannabis products in the last legislative session.

As part of these new rules, Mower County must create a committee to study the impact and provide recommendations for future policies.

CIP approved

Commissioners also gave the green light to the 2024-2028 Capital Improvement Plan, a five-year plan currently budgeted at $54 million. This amount may change based on project adjustments over the next five years.

Out of the $54 million, $7.6 million is set aside for use in 2024. From this, $6.3 million will be used for road and bridge projects.

An additional $1 million will be used for buying equipment, and $300,000 will be used for maintenance projects.

Source: Yahoo News

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