County budget shrinks, taxes should go down
There is some good news for Dakota County property taxpayers. When they receive their property tax statements in spring, they could see a slight reduction in the county portion of their property taxes.
At this week’s regular meeting of the Dakota County Board of Commissioners, county administrator Brandt Richardson presented a recommended 2014 budget of $332.75 million. That budget funds 1,744.71 full-time equivalent positions.
The recommended levy is the same amount as the preliminary levy set by the board in September — $128,506,313, or a .5 percent reduction from the approved 2013 levy of $129,152,073.
For the four previous years, the county has cut 133 FTE positions and approximately $40 million a year from its operating budget. During this time, reductions were prioritized in order to continue the highest-value programs and services. Personnel cost pressures from rising employee health insurance premiums were addressed through plan design changes and a move to self-insurance. The 2014 budget includes significant new investments in parks and trails, transportation and telecommunication infrastructure, and staff positions in critical service areas.The commissioners will hold budget workshop meetings this week. A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 3, at the Administration Center in Hastings. Final adoption of the budget and levy is expected Dec. 17.