Hold the commissioners' feet to the fire
The first thing I want to say is: One of the biggest mistake that I made as a commissioner was failing to get a jail built in the 1980s.
The total valuation of the county this year is $762,481,461. Ag-land values are going to go up 16 percent next year for tax purposes. This amounts to around $46,000,000. I am reasonably sure this assessor will be ordered by the revenue department to raise ag-land values another 20 percent of more in the next two or three years. These values are calculated from a three-year average of actual farm real estate sales that have occurred in this county.
In the year 2014, Valmont loses the TIF status. This means their property will be on the tax rolls for the first time. Their value is set now at $8,059,500.
The 16 percent increase in ag land next year and the addition of Valmont in 2014 will amount to another $54 million in taxable property.
If there are no other increases in property values, this should make the total taxable property in the county around $816,500,000.
The anticipated inheritance tax for this year is $464,808. I don't think the Legislature will get the votes to take this away from the counties.
The budget for health care this year in Red Willow County is $1,242,000. The deductible amount for each county employee is $575, or a maximum of $1,150 per family. Heath insurance co-pay is one place some saving could be made. I was on the county board long enough to know how hard it is to say no to some of these expenditures.
It is my opinion that the jail should be built north of the courthouse and bonds should be paid off from within the $.50 statutory limit of counties.
For the younger folks who have not heard this expression used -- "hold their feet to the fire" simply means force the county commissioners to spend no more than the statutory limit allows annually with the bond payments included.
We have three sensible county commissioners right now and I know they can do this without creating any hardship for anybody.
Remember when you vote on this issue, the bonds are going to be issued to build the jail.
This has already been voted on by the commissioners. A "no" vote means that it cannot exceed the $.50 limit. A vote "yes" means that it is outside and above the $.50 limit.