County gives 2012 budget final approvalThe Stutsman County Commission gave final approval to the 2012 budget during its regular meeting Tuesday. The budget projects deficit spending of $2.7 million but has a mill rate decrease of 0.07 mills.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Stutsman County Commission gave final approval to the 2012 budget during its regular meeting Tuesday. The budget projects deficit spending of $2.7 million but has a mill rate decrease of 0.07 mills.
The budget includes $2.6 million in spending for the local share of continued emergency road grade raises anticipated for 2012. This covers the 20 percent local share on about $13 million in grade raise work.
“We’re spending a lot of reserves simply because of our road problems without raising taxes,” said Noel Johnson, Stutsman County chief operating officer. “If your property value didn’t go up and the mill levy stays the same, your tax won’t go up.”
Johnson said the value of farmland did increase by about 9 percent. With the mill rates steady, farmers can expect to pay 9 percent more in property taxes. This generates an overall tax increase of 2.9 percent for the county.
This prompted questions about the valuation of farmland inundated with water.
“We are reevaluating all farmland based on productivity that will reflect the water,” Johnson said.
That reevaluation is not part of the upcoming tax year.
In other action the Stutsman County Park Board tabled action on raising land rents for cabin owners on the Jamestown Reservoir. The land is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation and cabin owners pay rent to the county for the cabin sites. Bureau of Reclamation policy set the site rent minimums at $2,360 for year-round cabins and $983 for seasonal cabins.
Cabin owners currently pay $1,930 for year-round access and $800 for seasonal.
Nellie Degen, a year-round cabin resident, requested that the season rate be set at half the year-round rate. Prior to 2004 the seasonal rate was half of the year-round rate but a negotiated settlement that year with the cabin owners resulted in a rate of less than half the year-round rate for seasonal cabin owners.
“Certainly you don’t want to construe that we’re discriminating against anyone,” Degen said. “In fairness this needs to be corrected. This formula is not fair to the year-round residents.”
A motion to set the rates at the Bureau of Reclamation minimum failed on a 3-4 vote. Park Board members Denny Ova, Bob Woodward and Mark Schlecht voting in favor and Dale Marks, David Schwartz, Craig Neys and Mark Klose opposed it.
Schwartz then moved to set the rental rates at $2,360 for year-round cabins and $1,080 for seasonal cabins. This motion died for a lack of a second.
A motion to table the issue to the next meeting and to confer with representatives of the Bureau of Reclamation passed unanimously.
The Park Board also agreed to consult with the Bureau of Reclamation concerning extending the contracts for the concessionaires at Jamestown Reservoir.
“The county has two options,” Johnson said. “Advertise for new bids or suspend the expiration for cause and there is certainly cause after the situation on the reservoir since 2009. It’s pretty hard to have a five year business plan and then have three years of disaster. This board needs to think about what they can do to help these people.”
The commission also approved an ordinance applying to areas of the county mapped as having a flood hazard. This ordinance allows the county to move from an emergency status to full status in the National Flood Insurance Program. This lifts the $35,000 limit in insurance coverage for rural areas.
“Jamestown, Kensal and Spiritwood Lake city had maps and the new map extends slightly downriver from Jamestown and northeast of Spiritwood Lake,” said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager. “The ordinance would apply to those building in those areas.”
Anyone building in the areas mapped as a flood hazard would need a permit issued by the Stutsman County Department of Emergency Management. The ordinance does not apply to areas outside the designated floodplain zones.
The County Commission also:
* agreed to advertise for requests for proposals for engineering work next year.
* approved about $1.5 million in payments for emergency grade raise work done this fall.
* approved the county’s membership in the South Central Regional Council.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org