Lyon County sets preliminary levy

MARSHALL – Members of the Lyon County Board set a preliminary levy for 2014 on Tuesday during a special meeting where budget issues were discussed. County commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of a preliminary levy of about $12.7 million, the maximum allowed by the state.

The preliminary levy can be lowered before a final levy is adopted, but it cannot be raised.

During the meeting Tuesday, commissioners went through budget proposals for individual county departments. Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg said some changes had been made since the board’s last budget discussion. The revised budget cut out some earlier proposals, including funds to help merge the city of Marshall’s assessor services with the county assessor’s office and funding for increased work hours for some county employees.

Stomberg said that, while Marshall and the county had talked about merging assessment services in the future, “we haven’t had any substantial discussion this year.” Without more concrete decisions, it might be better to leave it out of the 2014 budget, he said.

Stomberg also said the county has backed off on the idea of certain county staff working 40-hour weeks instead of 37.5 hours. At a previous budget discussion, Stomberg said it would cost the county an additional $82,000 per year to make that move. Stomberg said instead, staff in departments like the auditor/treasurer and recorder’s offices will be working on more flexible schedules to allow longer hours of operation for customers.

Even with those reductions, Stomberg said the county would still have work to do to bring the county levy down to 2013 levels, or the levy limit of $12,730,746. Commissioners also brought up other issues that could affect the final 2014 budget, like deciding whether to hire a permanent county engineer. However, that discussion was kept short.

“The thing we need to do first is to set the levy,” said County Board Chairman Rick Anderson. Even if the county set the maximum preliminary levy possible, it could still be reduced before a final levy is approved.

“I’ve never seen that happen,” said Commissioner Steve Ritter.

Board members voted 4-1 to approve the maximum preliminary levy of about $12.7 million. Ritter cast the vote against.

Lyon County has kept its final levy at a level of about $12.1 million since 2008.