October 11, 2017

County budget, tax increase set for 2018

By Daniel Arens

Mercer County residents will face a 2.49 percent tax increase in 2018, as the county commission struggles to deal with decreased funding and more rules coming from the state legislature.
Two public hearings were held Oct. 3 and 4 to address the mill levy increase and the county budget, respectively. The first hearing focused on why the decision was being made to raise the levy, including discussion of state reductions and questions pertaining to county spending. During the second hearing, the budget was debated, with questions and responses on various department budget numbers.
The Oct. 3 hearing began with a statement read by Duane Scheurer, Mercer County Commission chairman, explaining the basic rationale behind the mill levy decision. Scheurer stressed that the hearing was about the increase and not the county budget, which would be discussed the following morning at the end of the regular county commission meeting.
During the most recent legislative session, the North Dakota Legislature decided to do away with a 12 percent property tax buy-down program, opting to fully fund county social service programs instead. With Mercer County, the total cost of funding social services, a cost previously born by the county and now taken by the state, equaled a little more than $900,000 in total, according to Scheurer.

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