Tax Hike In Lee County Budget

Keokuk, IA – The Lee County Board of Supervisors has approved the county's preliminary budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2010. Spending is expected to exceed revenues by about $1-million.

The county will dip into its reserve accounts to cover much of the shortfall. Budget Director Cindy Renstrom says the county's fund balances can take the hit in next year's budget, but the levels need to be watched in the future.

The county will also raise more money through property taxes.

The property tax rate for city residents will increase by $0.06 while the rural rate will jump by about $0.42. The rate hike and an increase in the residential rollback will lead to higher tax bills for residents.

Chairman Rick Larkin says the county wanted to avoid lay-offs and furloughs. He says both can have too much of an impact on local services.

Uncertainty still surrounds Lee County's preliminary budget.

The supervisors froze all wages despite the fact that negotiations are still underway with the unions representing dozens of county employees. That means that if pay hikes are approved, the money will have to come from departmental budgets.

Larkin says the county is also waiting to see what happens at the state level.

The budget also includes about $210,000 for the Lee County Economic Development Group and funding for the new consolidated dispatch center.

The public will have a chance to weigh in on next year's budget during the supervisors' meeting on March 9.