BEATRICE – Gage County Supervisors held their public hearing Monday morning on this year’s budget plan, which is up for approval at a Wednesday regular meeting of the board.  No members of the public attended the hearing, which lasted 17 minutes.

This year’s proposed county budget has spending of about $48.48 million, and a tax request just over six percent lower than last year’s tax requirement….or a total of about $700,000 less, according to Board Chairman Erich Tiemann.

"There's an add for a resource officer at the sheriff's department. There's a couple of motor graders in there for the highway department. There's multiple projects put away for potential grant projects that may be coming up, including the potential for twelve miles of the Odell blacktop and Christ Lutheran (road) mill and overlay. Although we're reducing taxes, there's a lot of projects jammed into this budget, still."

Some reduction of staff is going into effect at the county’s highway department and Tiemann said other departments have been frugal.
"For the most part, everyone has been fairly flat across the board. The different departments, different offices have all run fairly lean. We do have some increases to labor...very subtle. They are not keeping up with the inflation rate."

The county’s tax rate for its operations would come to 29.34 cents per hundred dollars valuation. That compares with 34.16 cents the prior year. The tax rate being proposed is close to the 28-cent level the county had prior to having to spend several years paying the Beatrice Six judgment.

Adding in allowable levies for townships, fire districts and other units of government, the total tax rate of the county would be just under 40.28 cents.
When the county was paying the huge civil rights judgment, the total levy was required to be at the cap of 50-cents, under a state law that allowed the county to use a special half-cent countywide sales tax to help pay the judgment.

Under the proposed budget, wages would go up about five-percent….with the exception being law enforcement, where pay was increased additionally this summer to address a problem with filling vacant patrol and corrections positions.

The overall budget proposes spending that is less than one percent higher than the past year’s plan. The budget hearing was held on the same day that some local governments are required to take part in a joint agency meeting….those entities whose tax request is at least two percent more than the past year’s plan. 

In Gage County this year, total property valuation increased by 9.35%.