BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – Lee County Budget Director Cindy Renstrom has turned in a 2018 preliminary budget that is very similar to 2017.
The county levy for 2018 is being projected at $10.372 per $1,000 assessed valuation with revenue generation at $11,671,396. In 2017, the levy was $10.388 per $1,000 and generated $11,572,060.
Renstrom said the difference is in debt service.
“The reason it went down is that I’m using some of the debt service fund to cover some of the levy,” Renstrom said. “I also didn’t raise the general supplemental even though (Public Safety Answering Point-911) went up about $70,000 because we have enough carry over to cover it.”
Renstrom also said if health insurance rates come in lower, which she seemed to think it will, that could possibly help lower the rate a bit as well.
Currently the county pays $1,410 towards a county employee’s health insurance per month and $916 to a single policy. The employees pay $95 and $20 for family and single respectively.
The general categories for the budget are General Basic, General Supplemental, Mental Health-Developmental Disability, Debt Service and Rural Basic.
The projected rates for each category are $3.50 for General Basic and General Supplemental; 69.7 cents for MH-DD, 54.9 cents; and $2.127 for Rural Basic.
Valuations for the county sit at $1.26 billion compared to 1.25 billion in 2017 an increase of $9.1 million. The increase in assessed valuations will result in an additional $99,000 in revenue.
The $10.37 levy is the lowest levy the county has submitted since 2005 when no debt service was assessed and the levy was set at $8.60/1,000.
According to Renstrom’s fund balance sheet, she is projecting a 2017 fiscal year total fund balance of $12.125,408 and she’s budgeting for a $1,572,571 loss in the funds at the end of fiscal year 2018 for a net ending balance of approximately $10.55 million.
Highlighting the top expenditure estimates for 2018 is the general basic fund which has expenditure totals of $11.08M, Secondary Roads at $6.85M and $1.01M in debt service. Six funds are expected to take a loss in 2018, General Basic, MH-DD Services, Attorney Fine Collection Fund, Sheriff Commissary Fund, Records Management and Debt Service. Rural Basic services is showing a $322,000 surplus.