Des Moines County's Board of Supervisors approved its fiscal 2019 budget Tuesday after a presentation pointed blame at cities using tax increment financing and state legislative changes.
Budget Director Cheryl McVey presented the year's spending plan, which maintains the county's existing property tax levies. The urban rate is $7.44 per $1,000 of taxable value, and the rural rate is $11.12 per $1,000 of taxable value. This year's process saw several requested expenditures denied, county jail costs dramatically increased and health insurance costs rising 12.8 percent. The county is paying for a new bridge on Des Moines County 99.
McVey also outlined a pair of costly budget factors outside the county's control.
First, the board didn't budget revenue of about $344,000 that supervisors expect to lose this year. State legislators are considering elimination of a corporate tax replacement back-fill fund, and supervisors deemed it better not to budget the money if they don't think they'll be getting it.
"If the Legislature should decide to de-fund that back-fill, it could increase taxes 22 cents per $1,000 (of taxable value) or it could cause the board to make budget cuts equivalent to that amount," she said.
Second, McVey turned to local cities: 7 percent of the county's taxable value goes to cities for TIF, she said, with a loss of county revenue of about $735,000.
"TIF is $12,028,599 higher than the average of counties our size," McVey said. "This causes our levy rates to be higher than average, due to a higher percentage of our value going for TIF increment to benefit the cities. Our non-TIF value, now get this, is $226,687,366 lower than the average comparable sized county."
The board was supposed to vote on a request from union employees to extend a union contract three years, but the board took the vote off its agenda.
Chairman Jim Cary said he spoke to the county's labor attorney, Emily Ellingson, about the request. He said Ellingson told him they couldn't extend the contract because the process would count as a renegotiation, and some included employees are no longer allowed to be included in those negotiations after changes to Iowa law last year.
Kevin Glendening, the Communications Workers of America Local 7176 president and a sheriff detective, spoke in response.
"Changes to Chapter 20 did eliminate insurance from a mandatory area of bargaining for a non-public safety officer bargaining units," Glendening said. "However, it does state other areas are mutually agreed upon. I think it's a discretionary area. You guys have the discretion to look at this."
Cary said he would like to stick to the attorney's opinion.
"I'm just doing what they told me to do," he said.