An initial draft of the county’s budget and levy calls for a small levy decrease in 2020, keeping the county’s portion of property tax relatively flat.

From 2019 to 2020 the levy is expected to fall about $11,000, from $21.96 million to $21.95 million. Total spending will grow from $55.52 million to $57.29 million, and revenues will grow from $55.02 million to $55.70, according to data from Polk County Administrator Nick Osborne.

The revenue increase correlates with net new construction, which takes into account both demolition and construction for the year. Revenue from sales tax is also expected to go up. Osborne said the $125,000 budgeted increase is likely conservative.

The county’s budget process begins by setting spending limits for each department based on the estimated cost of continuing operations. The budget includes a $143,476 funding increase in the corporation counsel’s office responding to increased needs for child support. The increase was balanced by decreases in other departments.

Budget priorities

The county board has set the following as top spending priorities for the county in 2020.

• Transportation

• Recreation, Tourism, Parks

• Attracting and retaining the right county staff

• Infrastructure and equipment

• Addressing substance abuse

• Economic development

Next steps

The county board and committees will discuss the budget recommendation throughout October. The board will consider amendments and adoption of the budget at its November 12 meeting.

Other business

• The public continued to comment on policy proposals regarding concentrated animal feeding operations. The board heard a presentation from the Department of Natural Resources on the topic. The board will consider two proposals for temporary freezes, or moratoriums, on such farms. One would apply to all livestock, the other specifically to hog or swine farms. 

• The 2019 Land and Water Resource Management Plan was approved. 

• The board passed a resolution calling for review recycling options in Polk County, including the option of closing the county-owned recycling center. The resolution directed the county administrator to report back to the board in six months. 

• The board updated policies governing short-term rentals. The new regulations will not apply to the 110 rental locations already licensed in the county.

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