Friday, October 31, 2014

County, city OK slightly higher budgets

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 8/8/2014

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Ottawa City Commission Wednesday night approved 2015 proposed budgets with small increases to their mill levies.

A clean audit and a “minimal” mill levy increase highlighted the end of Ottawa’s budget discussions Monday afternoon. The Ottawa City Commission approved the 2015 budget, which proposes an increase of 1.17 to the mill levy over last year for a total of 48.417 mills, or a 2.4-percent increase. While reviewing the city’s budget audit for 2014 from Audrey Odermann, with the audit firm Mize Houser & Company, P.A., Mike Skidmore, city commissioner, said Monday the audit showed a solid budget.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Ottawa City Commission Wednesday night approved 2015 proposed budgets with small increases to their mill levies.

A clean audit and a “minimal” mill levy increase highlighted the end of Ottawa’s budget discussions Monday afternoon. The Ottawa City Commission approved the 2015 budget, which proposes an increase of 1.17 to the mill levy over last year for a total of 48.417 mills, or a 2.4-percent increase. While reviewing the city’s budget audit for 2014 from Audrey Odermann, with the audit firm Mize Houser & Company, P.A., Mike Skidmore, city commissioner, said Monday the audit showed a solid budget.

“There is a very minimal increase in the mill levy, in spite of the devaluation we’ve witnessed the last three years,” Skidmore said. “It’s a very good budget and all the department heads did a very good job on it.”

The audit is expected to be reviewed because the city was cited for violations that Scott Bird, the city’s finance director, said were without merit. The violations were for two funds that had negative cash balances, but Bird said Monday the funds only showed negative numbers because the city was waiting for federal funds to come in.

“We’re going to challenge these because those are actually federal monies, and really shouldn’t have been cited,” Bird said Wednesday night.

The city and county played host to a joint public budget hearing Wednesday night before approving their respective budgets.

The county also will see a small mill levy increase with a 0.119-mill increase to a total proposed levy of 60.293 mills, or a 0.19-percent increase.

To put the proposed county property tax levy into dollars, 60.293 mills would equal $693.36 on a $100,000 home.

The proposed mill levies are not official for the county or the city, Don Moler, interim county administrator, said Friday, because the actual assessed valuation of properties in the county will not be official until October. The 2014 proposed county mill levy was 59.991, according to Herald archives, but the official mill levy for 2014 ended up being 60.174, Moler said.

A few county residents spoke to the board during the public hearing, but asked for the county board to address issues in the county for which the board did not set aside money in the budget, including increasing the budget of outside organizations that receive county assistance and spending more money on road improvements in certain parts of the county.

The city only received one comment during the public hearing, which was a comment of gratitude for continuing improvements for the Ottawa Municipal Airport.

The county and city boards voted to approve their respective budgets without making changes.

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