On Tuesday, Sept. 21 the Scott County Board of Commissioners approved a maximum levy increase of 3.99% for property taxes payable in 2022. While all five commissioners voted to approve this maximum levy amount, in watching the board meeting it was obvious that commissioners were looking for the final levy increase — to be voted on Dec. 4 — to be lower than the preliminary 3.99% they approved. Several commissioners specifically said they wanted to see the final levy lower than 3.99%.
This thinking is dangerous to the fiscal health of the county.
In reviewing the budget that was proposed and its long-term impacts on services and the county’s fund balance, anyone interested in the overall economic health of Scott County should realize that the 3.99% preliminary levy, if anything, is too low not too high. The 3.99% is substantially lower than the cost drivers in Scott County — new growth plus inflation. This is the second year that the board will be approving a levy that is lower than the county’s cost drivers. However, this is the 10th year that the county’s tax rate has gone down — from 40.7% in 2013 to 30.4% in 2022.
While I understand that commissioners always want to keep taxes as low as possible; I would encourage the county board to put the long-term fiscal health of the county first. Don’t push to lower an already meager levy increase that will have minimal impacts to taxpayers; but if lowered could have serious impacts to the county’s operation and fiscal well-being.