County budget approved

Overall property tax rate down 39 cents in fiscal year beginning July 1


Many Marshall County residents are set for a tax rate decrease as the Marshall County Board of Supervisors approved the Fiscal Year 2019 county budget Tuesday.

Board Vice Chairman Dave Thompson presented an overview of next fiscal year’s budget, set to begin July 1.

“The financial strength of the county is good … this has been done through managing the details,” he said, adding the budgeting process is a team effort. “Numbers tell a story, and our story has been good,”

Thompson said the total county-wide levy is set to decrease 39.368 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation for both urban and rural residents; he added improvements or additions made to property could change that figure, as could a possible change from the state legislature on property tax rollbacks for certain properties.

Public safety came up during the FY19 budget expenditures discussion.

“Once again, our largest single expenditure is public safety; this one has an increase of almost $1 million,” Thompson said. “That $1 million includes the money that flows through public safety for the new 911 levy, which is approximately $993,000; it also includes the $120,000 that we have previously levied through debt service for the purchase of our vehicles for our sheriff’s department.”

The total estimated expenditures in the FY19 county budget total $28,258,497, while the total estimated revenues come to $26,619,930. County Auditor-Recorder Nan Benson said it’s typical to budget for higher-than-expected expenditures, explaining why the expenditure figure is higher than the revenue figure.

“Keep in mind that only approximately 50 percent of that total budget is levied toward the property taxpayer,” Thompson said, adding the remainder comes from intergovernmental funds or grants.

Additionally, he said the county is getting close to being debt-free.

“In April of this year, we should be debt-free on our bonds,” Thompson said. “We still have a very minor amount of debt leftover on leased vehicles, and in the budget that we are looking at, those leased vehicles will be budgeted for rather than leased, and that, in itself, will lend approximately 7 percent savings on those vehicle acquisitions.”

He said it’s possible that leftover funds at the end of FY19 could be used to pay off those leases, but added that is not a certainty.

Thompson also gave a breakdown of how county taxpayer dollars are spent.

“We collect the taxes for the entire county; they go to pay the needs of the county, all 10 school districts within the county, 13 incorporated communities, [Marshalltown] Community College, 16 townships, the assessor, the ag extension, and this year there will be an addition of the 911 commission,” he said, adding the Marshall County Communications Commission are flow-through funds not kept by the county.

Thompson used a Marshalltown taxpayer’s dollar as an example in the presentation.

“The school will take 43 cents of your tax dollar, Marshalltown city will take 37 cents of your tax dollar, the county will take 16 cents from your tax dollar, Area Education [Agency] 6 will take 3 cents, and all other entities, being the assessor, ag extensions, and the State of Iowa, will take roughly a penny,” he said.

Also approved Tuesday were adjustments to the current county budget. County Engineer Paul Geilenfeldt’s department saw the largest increase in the re-appropriation, totaling $832,553.

He said changes in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding for a culvert, as well as changes in fuel and snow removal costs, were why the increase was needed.

The supervisors said re-appropriation does not affect taxpayers.

“Anything that goes over comes out of our reserves, anything that goes under goes into our reserves,” said Board Chairman Bill Patten of the budget adjustments.

In other business

The board voted to move $375,000 from the county’s general basic fund to its capital improvement fund.

“That capital savings [fund], over a four-year period, we’re hoping to get up to approximately $1.2 million, and maybe more,” Thompson said. “That will be for the future project that we will be starting, we’re in the planning phases, which will be the final portion of redoing the courthouse from the gutters all the way to the spire.”

He added that monies in the fund can only be used for capital projects, as well as the county Information Technology Department infrastructure improvements and equipment to more efficiently provide government.

Meanwhile, Tama resident Lee Smith was awarded a three-year county farm ground lease on a bid of $350 per acre for 230 acres near the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office and Jail. That makes for an annual cost of $80,500 and a total three-year cost of $241,500.

Smith was awarded the lease after several minutes of live bidding at Tuesday’s meeting. The live auction began at $275 per acre, which was the highest bid sent in prior to the meeting.

The upcoming dust control deadline was also discussed.

“I just wanted to give a quick reminder to residents that it’s dust control season again, even though it doesn’t look like it today,” Geilenfeldt said. “April 17 is our deadline for residents to sign up with their vendor.”

He said the county works with private vendors to map and prepare sites for dust control product application, but added the county “doesn’t really have any teeth” to deal with issues between residents and vendors.

“So, anything where the customer doesn’t feel like they’re getting the proper application … it’s really between the resident, who is the customer, and the vendor,” Geilenfeldt said. “Sometimes there’s a misconception that the county has a hammer they can swing here, and we really don’t; we’re trying to let the market dictate the price, we don’t set the price.”

The next Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 6 in meeting room No. 2 on the third floor of the Marshall County Courthouse, 1 E. Main St.


Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or