MCC approves state policy changes
By Daniel Arens
On the heels of a roughly 2.5 percent tax levy increase for Mercer County for 2018, the county’s five-member commission approved drafting a letter expressing concern about recent state legislative decisions.
During the tax increase and budget hearings, Commission Chairman Duane Scheurer argued that the increase was necessary to allow the county to maintain its needed services, and that even with the increase the county would still be operating at around $200,000 less total revenue than they had in the 2017 fiscal year.
One of the primary factors in this budget challenge is a change of policy from the state legislature. Itself facing a major budget deficit, the legislature decided to end a 12 percent property tax buydown program that benefited counties in the past, opting instead to cover all social services funding. However, in Mercer County, the amount of money the county saved through the buydown program was roughly $300,000 more than the county’s previous costs for their part of funding social services. In sum, the benefit of the new state policy on social services does not equal the lost revenue that the county previously received from the buydown.