Le Sueur County board sets preliminary levy increase

Jake Keohen, Montgomery Messenger

The Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners set the preliminary 2011 tax levy increase at 1.08 percent during the regular meeting held Tuesday, Aug. 24.

The preliminary levy, which must be set by September 15, followed by the final approval in December, was approved on a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Bob Culhane, Joe Doherty and Joe Connolly in favor, Commissioners John Grimm and Bill Stangler against. Grimm favored no increase, as he proposed last year, citing unemployment, the economy and burden on taxpayers, while Stangler felt the preliminary number should be higher, since it can be reduced prior to final approval in December. He was also opposed to further reductions in courthouse (employee) hours, which had been mentioned as a possibility, since the staff has been very cooperative in the past.

County Administrator/Engineer Darrell Pettis opened the budget discussion by telling the commissioners the numbers look better than previous, and Columbus Day, which had been scheduled as a furlough day for employees without pay, was no longer necessary, although it will be in place for the 2011 budget.

He said one major change to help the situation was in health insurance, where a 23 percent increase the previous year was now projected as a 5 percent decrease.

Pettis, who had earlier predicted a possible 4.91 percent levy increase, cautioned that the great unknown is County Program Aid (CPA), which won't be determined until next year.

The board also:

• Accepted the Environmental Review documents related to expansion of mining by UNIMIN Corporation in Kasota Township, in order for the review process to continue.

• Was informed by Administrator Pettis that because of changes at Bolton & Menk, the surveyor's office in Le Center will remain open. It had been announced earlier that the office was being closed.

• Accepted thanks from Eugene Schwake, president of the Waterville Lakes Assn., for the board resolution opposing the proposal by the DNR to stock muskies in the area lakes.

• On recommendation of Personnel Coordinator Cindy Westerhouse, granted regular status to Alesha Meyer, full time jailer/dispatcher in the sheriff's office, following completion of her one-year probationary period.

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