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Palo Alto County Assessor’s Budget Earns Tentative Approval

By Staff | Feb 17, 2009

Members of the Palo Alto County Conference Board approved a budget of some $216,000 for the Palo Alto County Assessor during a meeting Tuesday. However, the re-appointment of the assessor was tabled until a public hearing on the budget, tentatively scheduled for March 10.

The Conference Board, comprised of the county Board of Supervisors, as well as representatives of each of the school districts in the county and the mayors of each community in the county, met to review the proposed budget for Palo Alto County Assessor Lois Naig Tuesday afternoon.

Naig reported that according to information from the Iowa Department of Revenue, the statewide valuations on all property is expected to rise 50 percent for the coming year, but along with that projected increase, greater rollbacks are also expected, with the exception of commercial property, which does not receive rollbacks in valuation.

“Right now, I am waiting to hear from the Department of Revenue just what our percentage will be for valuations,” Naig told the group. “The percentage is going to be different for every county.”

“Why are there so many different rollbacks?” asked John Schad, Emmetsburg Mayor.

“I don’t know,” Naig answered. “I think the state just tries to confuse everyone with all the different rates. Actually, Iowa has one of the most complicated formulas for the determination of valuation. People don’t really care about all that, they just want to know the bottom line of what their property is worth.”

Naig presented Board of Supervisor Chair Ed Noonan with a certification from the Department of Revenue attesting that Naig was eligible, through completion of continuing education requirements, for re-appointment to her post.

“A point of procedure,” John Schad spoke up. “I did not receive an agenda for this meeting until I walked in here today. Was this posted prior to this meeting?

Naig replied that the agenda had been posted in the Palo Alto County Courthouse, in full accordance with the Iowa Open Meeting Law.

Schad asked if there were any way an agenda could be sent to the Conference board members prior to the next meeting and Naig replied to the affirmative.

“I guess I just wasn’t ready for this action,” Schad said. “I’m not disputing that you’re qualified for this office, but I think that the public should have the opportunity to comment.

Schad continued, “I’d move to table the re-appointment of Lois Naig as Palo Alto County Assessor until our next meeting.”

There was silence in the board room of the courthouse for a few moments until Supervisor Leo Goeders offered a second. The motion was then carried unanimously, tabling Naig’s appointment until the public hearing on the budget.

Naig then presented the budget for Fiscal Year 2009-2010, noting the total was nearly $50,000 under last year’s budget asking, as the county had signed a contract for the Geographic Information System that she had been budgeting for over the past few years.

The actual budget asking for 2009-2010 is $216,676, down $41,460 from the previous year’s request of $258,136.

In accordance with the Supervisor’s freeze on salaries, Naig’s salary as Assessor will remain at $36,549 for the coming year. There are increases in Medicare, FICA and IPERS, as well as health insurance coverage. Other increases in budget area included cost for publications and Board of Review costs.

The bottom line of the budget, according to Naig, was a reduction in the tax rate to 0.43729, down from 0.53 last Fiscal Year.

On a motion by Supervisor Jerry Hofstad that was seconded by Schad, the budget was approved as submitted on a unanimous vote. The board set 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 10, for the public hearing on the Assessors Budget. The hearing will be held in the Supervisors Board Room.