County tax levy to jump 7 mills

Marion County commissioners approved a 5-mill budget increase for 2017, plus a 2-mill assessed valuation increase.

One mill is now valued at $125,216.

Budget consultant Scott Loyd said Monday at the opening budget hearing before the regular commission meeting that the situation makes it “one of the more challenging” situations he has seen in 33 years of county budget hearings across the state.

What is worse, Loyd said, is that the situation may get worse.

He said it isn’t even known whether the state tax lid will last for one year or 10 years, therefore making it very difficult for county commissioners to plan.

Most county offices increased in needs, but Loyd said the biggest increases came from the ambulance department, the sheriff’s office and employee health insurance.

Increases in the road and bridge department also were cited.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said too many aging volunteers have left the ambulance service without being replaced, so the county has had to hire two people for the service probably with another three to be added next year.

The radio repeater system for the emergency medical service and the sheriff’s office are out of date with first priority for the sheriff’s office, he said.

Commissioner Dan Holub said the sheriff’s office requires another deputy both for required court security and as a patrol officer.

Commissioner Lori Lalouette said the main em­ployee insurance increase goes up with increased health needs.

Nine township and city representatives discussed increasing budget needs for emergency radio service.

The commissioners passed the 2017 budget 3-0.

The commissioners selected Marion National Bank for a 2.24 percent interest bid competitive with other banks for a five-year $390,000 loan with annual payments for historically authentic weatherized courthouse windows.

The commissioners approved spending $4,341 made from assorted bids for a 24-cubic foot refrigeration unit for health department storage of vaccination units.

They met in executive session for 10 minutes for personnel with Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene.

Holub and Dallke voted for, and Lalouette against, entering into an agreement with Foley Caterpillar for maintenance and repair needs of one road grader that might show whether the service should be extended ot more machines.

The commissioners approved a road and bridge transport fuel bid of $12,776 for 5,000 gallons of diesel and 2,000 gallons of gasoline from Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro over a competitive bid of $12,901 from Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa.

The commissioners recessed the meeting to look at road drainage at Alexan­derwhol Mennonite Church, north of Goessel, where relatively level land causes water to back up.