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Little change in store for ’10 county budget

December 1, 2009
By Deb Gau

MARSHALL - The Lyon County budget would be holding steady next year, with a maximum possible levy increase of less than 1 percent, and even some big savings in the county jail budget, county officials said at a public budget meeting Tuesday night. However, outside factors like changing land values mean county tax burdens are shifting away from residential and commercial properties and onto agricultural land.

Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg and members of the Lyon County Board presented a $12.1 million preliminary levy for 2010 Tuesday night. Overall, the levy is an increase of $27,000 - or two-tenths of a percent - over the 2009 budget.

"This will be no more than two tenths of a percent more than last year. It could be less," said Lyon County Board Chairman Rodney Stensrud.

The final county budget will be set on Dec. 15.

Around 12 to 15 county residents were present for the meeting, and several were concerned about steep increases in their county property taxes for next year. While Stomberg and commissioners said individual tax increases wouldn't be discussed Tuesday, Lyon County Assessor Dean Champine explained the change was due to rising property values on farmland.

Champine said ag land values are increasing as much as 10 to 15 percent, while commercial and residential property values are staying the same or decreasing.

"Right now, agricultural land is a much stronger market than residential or commercial land," he said. If farmland values decrease, taxes would follow the market down.

Stomberg said some of the biggest changes on the 2010 budget included a $176,000 decrease in the jail budget and a $331,000 increase in the county's financial accounting budget. Stomberg said that increase is meant to offset a drop in interest revenues for the county. The smaller jail budget reflects savings in out-of-county boarding costs for prisoners and payroll reductions from turnover in the Sheriff's Department, he said.

Stensrud suggested that taxpayers with concerns or looking for an explanation of their preliminary tax increases go to the county assessor's office.



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