Marion County Commissioners proposed during their July 31 meeting an increase of one mill for the 2013 budget, to be applied to the capital improvement fund for roads.
The increase would bring the tax rate to 67 mills to raise about $7,555,355. Initially, the commission was considering just over a 5 mill increase, but was able to bring it back to nearly the same amount as 2012.
Commissioner Roger Fleming said he didn’t think any of the commissioners want to see a tax increase.
“I think that’s been kind of the thought process,” Fleming said. “It’s easy to say the mill levy wasn’t raised, but also knowing that down the road we are going to have to come up with more money (at some point).”
Dan Holub, commission chair, said this is not an arbitrary mill levy—it has a specific purpose.
“Some of the things we are dealing with right now are because the focus was too much on not raising taxes,” he said. “We have to acknowledge prices are going up and we are not living like we did in 2000. We have to allow for changes.”
According to Scot Loyd, certified public accountant with Swindoll, Janzen Hawk and Loyd in McPherson, by making the transfer so visible, the public knows how money was reduced from the Road and Bridge fund and where the additional one mill would be included.
Fleming said the way this was done allows it to be much clearer and not as arbitrary.
Until the assessed valuation is finalized, one mill generates about $112,586.
City Clerk Carol Maggard said the budget won’t be adopted until after the Aug. 20 budget hearing.
Holub addressed the public regarding recent editorials in the Marion County Record attacking the county that he characterized as “yellow journalism.”
Holub said he wanted to “talk some facts” regarding an editorial, “Towering Stupidity,”written by Eric Meyer and about the county “digging in its heels insisting that communications will go silent unless it can get exactly what it wants—a taller tower a few feet away from its old one.”
“(The commission) has never said that,” Holub said. “We need a tower, and we have looked at other things. It’s not just putting a tower up, but it’s spending money.
“If people want to come and trash the commission or city council that’s fine,” Holub said. “But they are taking on the whole county who we represent, and I feel obligated (to address this).”
Holub said he knows the other two commissioners are also wanting to get the issue resolved correctly and in a cost-effective manner.
Holub said one of the editorials said the county dismissed “scores of alternatives” and it was rumored that conduit is already between the new jail and current tower.
Holub said he and Marion County Sheriff Robb Craft checked, and there is no conduit.
“There is one between the jail and courthouse,” he said. “If (publisher Eric Meyer) is going to print that kind of stuff he needs to check that out. That has no business being in the paper.”
Holub said another part of the editorial stated the county has behaved like a spoiled child, demanding the city ignore its zoning so the county can get what it wants.
“When did we do that?” Holub asked.
The city, he said, told the county it needs to apply for a conditional-use permit.
“We did. We went over there and spent an hour watching Mr. White and Mrs. Herbel sit there and demonstrate how well they knew their books, page and paragraph, and when it was all over they came to the conclusion they couldn’t help us,” he said.
When the county didn’t qualify, Holub said the county was told it would need to talk with the Board of Zoning Appeals or to somebody else.
“Yet these same two people the other night were whining because they were bypassed. They were bypassed because we went to the city administrator and that’s what they told us to do,” he said.
The latest accusation in an editorial was that the county brought in a hired gun—a man with 40 years experience.
“(The editorial) called him a ‘supposed zoning expert who is a bureaucrat from another county, getting fat off moonlighting,’” Holub said.
“This man was asked a question and some didn’t like what they heard, so now he is a hired gun and a bureaucrat.”
Holub said he was not happy and would like to invite Meyer to come by and talk about the issues over the table.