At its April 19 meeting, the Linn County Board of Supervisors approved a $152.2 million balanced budget for fiscal year 2024 following five months of public meetings and two public hearings.
The newly approved budget increases the countywide levy (property tax) rate by 11 cents from $5.85 per $1,000 of taxable value to $5.96. This is equal to $18 on a $200,000 home. This increase was necessary to maintain current services while meeting rising inflation costs. Many of Linn County’s contract costs also increased because of inflation.
The rural levy rate, which is in addition to the countywide levy rate for residents who live in unincorporated Linn County, remains unchanged at $2.71 and includes a reduction of one dollar for rural residents from the Local Option Sales Tax allocation. This reduction is a result of 25% of the Local Option Sales Tax revenue that provides property tax relief in the unincorporated areas.
Commercial and industrial property taxes will increase 1.9% due to the increase in the countywide levy rate. This is equal to $39 on a $400,000 business.
Farm taxes will increase approximately 4.2% due to the annual change in the state agricultural rollback and the increase in the countywide levy rate. This is equal to $291 on a $900,000 farm.
“This was an especially challenging budget year given inflation. Just like household budgets, we are paying more for things like utilities, fuel for County vehicles, and food for places like the jail and the Juvenile Detention Center. These expenses are necessary for us to provide services,” Linn Board of Supervisor Chair Louis Zumbach said. “We worked hard to create this budget without cutting services for residents. In the end, the approved FY24 budget meets the County’s goal to be accountable to the taxpayers through responsible budgetary decisions.”
While Linn County and other local governments were planning for fiscal year 2024, the state passed SF181 which reduced the residential rollback percentage that Linn County and other local governments in Iowa were using to calculate property taxes for fiscal year 2024. This reduction in the rollback percentage meant local governments would face a loss of revenue in the coming year unless they raised their levy rates or found ways to cut expenses; revenue is what is used to provide services. Linn County was facing a budget shortfall of $1.7 million due to the legislative change. Instead of raising the levy rate higher than 11 cents, which was covering inflation costs, the Board of Supervisors instead worked with department heads and Linn County’s other elected officials to cut $1.7 million from the FY24 budget to balance the budget.
Despite the challenges, Linn County’s FY24 budget maintains key resident programs, including things like motor vehicle registration, voter services, public safety, veteran programs, and health and human services. Despite a list of $2.2 million in new general fund requests, none were funded this year. This is the first year since Linn County implemented Budgeting for Outcomes in fiscal year 2012 that it was not able to fund new or expanded services for residents.
Overall, the FY24 budget continues Linn County’s funding of the key service areas of public health and safety, roads and transportation, the environment, and necessary capital improvements. These priority areas reflect Linn County’s strategic plan, which focuses on customer satisfaction, high quality of life, and financial health and have a positive impact on the County’s ability to serve residents.
The ending fund balance in Linn County’s general fund remains at 25%, as prescribed in Linn County’s financial policies.
“Many people just finished paying their spring property tax bill to the Linn County Treasurer, so it’s important for residents to know that their property tax bill includes the taxes levied by multiple jurisdictions,” Zumbach said. “Linn County’s taxes account for approximately 15% of their overall tax bill if they live in one of the cities. The remaining 85% of property taxes goes to their city of residence, school district, and other taxing bodies in the county. Linn County taxes represent slightly more than one-third of property taxes for rural residents.”
Last month, Linn County announced a new online tool that provides increased transparency of the property tax collection and distribution process. The site includes interactive maps, a dashboard, and charts that show countywide property tax statistics, the tax bill cycle, property tax levy rates for all taxing jurisdictions in the county, and where their property tax dollars are going. By using this site, taxpayers can look up their property and see the exact dollar amount and percentage of their property taxes going to each taxing jurisdiction, such as their city of residence, school district, and county.
Linn County’s fiscal year 2024 runs July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024.
FY24 Linn County Budget Summary:
- Budget of $152.2 million – a decrease of $2.6M or 1.7% due to reductions made to accommodate SF181 and a decrease in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) project appropriations
- An increase in the FY24 countywide levy rate from $5.85 to $5.96 per $1,000 of taxable value. This increase was necessary to maintain current services while meeting rising inflation costs.
- No increase in the rural levy rate of $2.71; rural levy rate includes a reduction of one dollar for rural residents from the Local Option Sales Tax allocation as voted on by rural residents
- Impact to homeowner: Property taxes will increase 2.8% due to the increase in the countywide levy rate and state rollback change. This is equal to $18 on a $200,000 home.
- Commercial and industrial property taxes will increase 1.9% due to the increase in the countywide levy rate. This is equal to $39 on a $400,000 business. Last year, commercial and industrial property taxes decreased by 6.3%.
- Farm taxes will increase approximately 4.2% due to the annual change in the state agricultural rollback and the increase in the countywide levy rate. This is equal to $291 on a $900,000 farm.
- Property taxes levied: $78.2 million – an increase of 3.5% from FY23 due to the increase in the countywide levy rate and change in the state rollbacks
- Local Option Sales Tax revenue of $3.3 million is estimated for road construction; $1.5 million for Conservation projects; and $1.5 million in property tax relief for rural residents
- Property taxes account for 51% of Linn County’s FY24 budget
- Achieves goal of general fund ending balance of 25%
- Linn County’s 2024 fiscal year runs July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024.