2018 county levy set at $10.398 million

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Swift County has raised its levy by 2 percent for 2018 to $10,398,870 – an increase of $203,899. That levy will provide nearly half the revenue for its operations this year with the budget calling for $21.16 million in expenditures.

While the levy is going up, county overall spending is going down by $3.472 million. That big drop in spending can be attributed to one area of county expenditures – highways.

In 2017, the county highway budget was $11.29 million with revenues coming in from federal and state sources to help pay for work on a 13-mile stretch of Swift County Road 6. The work was done east of Minnesota 29 south with the road getting a new cement surface. It is now the third road in the county surfaced with cement.

This year’s county highway budget is $7.11 million, $4.18 million less, with no major road construction projects scheduled.

The 2 percent levy increase is lower that any in the past decade thanks to a substantial increase in the County Program Aid (CPA) from the state.

The CPA the county gets is going up $353,031 to $540,981. CPA is now the highest it has been since 2010 when the county received $561,470.

The increased CPA helps keep property taxes lower, Administrator Kelsey Baker said. The levy would have gone up about 4.5 percent if the CPA would have stayed around the 2017 level of $187,000 for 2018, she said.

In 2005, the county received $933,229 in County Program Aid, giving the county a significant portion of its general revenue financing for operations. But with Minnesota and the nation in a recession in 2008 to 2011, then Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty unallotted funding to the county financial aid program to help balance the budget.

Could the county see its CPA allotted again by a future governor?

Commissioner Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, expressed some concern about the funding all coming through to the county. “With the state deficit…I saw what happened in 2008, 2009 and 2010,” he said. In those three years, the county saw the state take back nearly $400,000 of the CPA it promised to Swift County.

Swift County could potentially see a reduction in its County Program Aid this year, Baker agreed.

A recent assessment of the Minnesota budget projections showed a deficit of $188 million for the current two-year budget cycle, and a projected negative balance of $586 million for the 2020-21 biennium, according to a forecast released by Minnesota Management and Budget last November. “The deficits are due to a reduced U.S. economic growth forecast and impacts of enacted legislation during the 2017 session, the release added....


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