By ROBERT PIERCE and LARRY PHILLIPS
• Daily Leader
Despite finalizing 15-percent cuts to all county departments and all but one local agency that receives funding from the county during a July 26 budget workshop, Seward County’s 2011 budget proposal raises its mill levy by as much as 22.5 percent.
A notice of budget hearing published in Thursday’s Daily Leader showed a proposed increase in the levy from 27.511 mills in 2010 to 33.701 mills in 2011. Most of that increase is in the county’s general fund, which has been proposed to rise from 22.167 mills for 2010 to 29.419 for 2011.
One department, road and bridge, is shown to have a slight decrease from 4.344 mills in 2010 to 3.281 in 2011, and the county building fund levy will remain at 1 mill, according to the proposed budget.
Figures indicated the estimate for expenditures for 2010 at about $20.2 million. That number could jump to about $21.3 million next year for an increase of about 5 percent.
The county’s assessed valuation is estimated to be around $317 million in 2010. Under the proposed budget for 2011, that revenue will fall to around $270 million, a drop of $47 million or nearly 15 percent.
The Seward County Commission will conduct a public budget hearing at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 16 in the commission chambers in the Seward County Administration Building for the purpose of hearing and answering questions from taxpayers relating to the proposed use of all funds and the amount of the 2010 ad valorem tax.
In a Letter to the Editor (see Page 4A), commissioner Toby Hale listed several items the commission undertook in budget workshops to mitigate forcasted revenue shortfalls:
1.) No pay raises this past year nor in 2011 for county employees.
2.) A hiring freeze effective July 19, 2010.
3.) Effective July 2010, only essential expenditures required to perform the functions of the jobs will be allowed for all county staff and elected officials.
4.) For budget year 2011, a 15-percent cut in all agencies receiving funding from the county.
5.) For budget year 2011, a 15-percent reduction in county departmental costs except for wages.
6.) The county has dropped membership and training programs in state and county organizations.
Detailed budget information is available at the county clerk’s office and will also be available at the Aug. 16 hearing.