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County presents 2016 budget, levy

WORTHINGTON -- After nearly six months of budget negotiations, Nobles County commissioners are prepared to present a 2016 budget of more than $34.3 million when they vote in just three weeks.

WORTHINGTON - After nearly six months of budget negotiations, Nobles County commissioners are prepared to present a 2016 budget of more than $34.3 million when they vote in just three weeks. 

The budget represents a 27.7 percent increase over the 2015 actual budget - due in large part to grants the county has received in community services and public works for the coming year, according to Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson.
To help cover the gap between revenues and expenditures, the county is proposing to generate more than $12.88 million in property tax revenue - a 5.88 percent increase over 2015. In September, commissioners had set the not-to-exceed levy at a 7.21 percent increase and have since worked the budget downward.
Slightly more than 70 percent of the property taxes generated in Nobles County will come from agricultural land in 2016, compared to 13.46 percent from residential properties, 1.14 percent from apartments, 10.26 percent from commercial/industrial properties, 1.45 percent from utilities and railroads and 3.29 percent from personal property.
“Agriculture has gone down about 4 percent this year, largely due to the value of cropland (declining),” Johnson said.
The largest share of the county’s portion of property taxes collected goes to fund general government, followed by human services, public safety, the jail, culture and recreation, debt services and the highway department, with small portions going to public health, parole and probation, conservation of natural resources and economic development.
Johnson noted that Nobles County will receive $382,429 in county program aid in 2016 - a $6,300 increase from this year - and that more than $1 million will be collected in wind energy production taxes.

Wind energy production tax revenues have been assigned to cover $168,000 in operating expenses, with the remainder dedicated to projects.
“We have many, many projects coming up,” Johnson said.
Also noteworthy in the 2016 budget is an increase in the fund to deal with taxforfeited parcels. The fund will increase from $17,000 in 2015 to $117,000 in 2016.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Arnold Meyer of Worthington said one of his parcels is slated for a 21 percent tax increase in 2016, while another is up 27 percent.
“That just seems like a whale of an increase,” Meyer said, adding that the U.S. government reports inflation is “practically zero and Social Security is nothing.”
Meyer said he wasn’t arguing the value placed on his properties - he wanted to know why the taxes were increasing so much.
County Auditor-Treasurer Beth Van Hove said the actual taxes for 2016 “will probably be lower than the proposed rate,” adding that the tax information sent to residents was based on the not-to-exceed levy.
Those interested in learning more about how Nobles County spends and receives money may visit the county’s financial reporting platform at noblescountymn.opengov.com
Commissioner will act on the final budget and levy adoption at their Dec. 22 meeting, slated to begin at 9 a.m. in the board room on the third floor of the Nobles County Government Center.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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