CLINTON — The Clinton County Board of Supervisors is set to vote on the proposed fiscal year 2019 budget at next week’s regularly scheduled board meeting.

The Supervisors on Monday held a public hearing for the proposed budget. The county in preparing the budget looked at how to address both the overrun for the Clinton County Law Center project and how to spend down the mental health fund balance. The county elected to fund the mental health levy at $0 per $1,000. The county elected to move the traditional mental health tax levy amount to the general basic levy amount.

“With the debt service scheduled to decrease anyway, especially as one of our three bonds are coming to an end, what that all will result in is us mostly covering the jail overrun amount without increasing our overall tax levy rate for the county,” Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker said. “In fact, it results in a 22 cent decrease, mostly because of the debt service.”

The general tax levy rate, with the move from the mental health tax levy amount to the general basic levy, will result in the general levy being at $4.17 per $1,000, over the $3.50 cap per Iowa code. He stated lower than expected growth in tax rates and sustainability of required services allow the county to supersede the $3.50 cap.

“However, what that does do, just so you know, it will allow residents to protest,” Van Lancker said. “They can get a petition. They could file that with the state then. And then the state would have a hearing and you would just have to go and basically present the budget you approved and why you approved it. There are about 25 percent of the counties in the state of Iowa over the $3.50 limit. Many of those 25 percent have been over the limit for quite some time. And a few of them are well over the limit. A limit by the way as far as anyone can tell was set in the ’80s.”

Supervisor Tom Determann said due to Senate File 504 requiring the county to lower the mental health levy they would have gone to a levy of $0 regardless of the overrun for the law center project. Supervisor Dan Srp added exceeding the $3.50 cap may apply for only one year, depending on the decision making of the board in future years.

“I would say our design of exceeding that $3.50 cap has left us an option of being back within potentially next year,” Srp said. “Depending on the decision of this board next year in the budget session, we believe we’ve left them a path to return within that cap. And so realistically this very much could be a one-time, one-year exception. Although it’s hard to say with other outside circumstances and decisions coming through that process a year from now.”

The Board of Supervisors is set to vote on the proposed fiscal year 2019 budget at the regularly scheduled March 12 board meeting.

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