County mill levy to fall
Stark County commissioners George Nodland and Duane Wolf saw a first during their tenures as county officials Tuesday morning. The commissioners shuffled through the projected 2007 budget at the Stark County Courthouse. The end result is the coun...
Stark County commissioners George Nodland and Duane Wolf saw a first during their tenures as county officials Tuesday morning.
The commissioners shuffled through the projected 2007 budget at the Stark County Courthouse. The end result is the county budget will produce a decrease of 3.67 mills levied - the first time there's been a mill levy decrease during their terms.
"This year, it's the increase in valuation of property in Stark County," said Chairman Nodland. "That comes from new construction of homes and businesses and the increase in valuation when the assessor does update her annual valuations."
When Nodland and Wolf first served on the commission in 2000, the mills were at more than 109. Now, mills have dropped to just more than 105.
Three years ago, the commissioners were more than $300,000 short in the General Fund, Nodland said. For the past two years, they have raised mills.
"Now we're able to cut mills," Nodland said. "We're not cutting services to the people. We're giving all employees a 5 percent raise to keep up with the cost of living."
Nodland said the valuation of the county has gone up 9.4 percent across the board. Farm lands increased 7 percent, residential 5 percent to 10 percent, small cities 8.9 percent and Dickinson 12.6 percent.
"Taxes will still go up because of valuation," Nodland said.
Not only has Stark County seen an increase in valuation, the whole state is experiencing the same thing, Nodland said.
"The general economy of North Dakota has been good for two years," Nodland said. "We're seeing results. I foresee that to continue in '07 because of our oil activity. The state of North Dakota has got a $500,000,000 surplus. I've never seen that in my life."
In 2007, Stark County expects to receive $2,258,610 in total estimated revenues in the General Fund. It estimating $2,174,308.85 in total expenditures.
"What I feel good about is we're able to come out of a $2 million General Fund budget," Nodland said, "and we're able to come within $18-19,000 for the first time in three years and still cut mills."
In other items of interest on Tuesday:
E The commissioners voted to invite a member of the Vanguard System to give an overview of its services and an estimate of cost to revaluate all types of property.
Not only would it bring the county up to date, but it also offers an automated computerized system. In the county's current system, all of the work is done by hand.
"We would know where every culvert, every sign and every bridge and everything would be," Nodland said. "It would be on computer instead of handwritten."
It also could create a more equal evaluating system in valuing property. The city of Dickinson already uses the Vanguard System, Nodland said.
"The city went through commercial evaluations a few years ago across the board and ended up being higher," Nodland said. "We feel the same thing, our commercial evaluations are low."
E Stark County road superintendent Al Heiser realizes he might not win popularity points. Heiser and the commissioners are considering grinding up the pavement on 32 St. SW, between the avenues of 110 and 111. The ½-mile stretch north of Dickinson could possibly be turned into a gravel road.
Heiser said he would research some other options before ripping up the pavement.
The west bound lane of the road is becoming busted up and rutted because of heavy truck traffic coming out of a nearby gravel pit.
The cost would be $81,000 to patch the busted up areas and to put a 1½-inch overlay on it, Heiser said. The cost would include $34,000 to repair the bad spots and the remaining would cover the overlay.
The overlay wouldn't hold up because of the heavy loads, Heiser said. Heiser described it as putting a house on a broken foundation.
"Something needs to be done with the base," Heiser said. "We can't afford to spend $81,000 to put on something that doesn't have a base below. It doesn't pay to put down good pavement on top of the base until the base gets fixed."
Heiser sees the stretch of road as a hazard because the ruts are 3 inches deep.
Heiser will make the best decision possible and begin the project this fall. He wants it completed before the snow flies.
"It's at the point where we have to do something with it," Heiser said
If the road would be turned into gravel, it would be coated with oil to control dust.