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Paying The Bill$

By Staff | Aug 2, 2012

Where Your Tax Dollar Goes

If you own a piece of the American Dream and it’s located in Palo Alto County, you’ll be seeing something in your mailbox very soon. The Palo Alto County tax levy for the January 1, 2011 valuation of all properties has been prepared for mailing, and taxpayers will be seeing those statements any day now, with the taxes payable during this fiscal year of 2012-2013.

While nearly everyone considers taxes a necessary evil, many are not totally sure just how the county’s tax assessment dollars are assigned and spent.

Palo Alto County Treasurer Mary Kunz Hilfiker prepared two pie graphs for the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors’ use when discussing taxes with constituents and presented the information to the board members during the weekly meeting of the Supervisors on July 31. County Auditor Carmen Moser also presented the supervisors with the tax levy and valuation of January 1, 2011, payable in the fiscal year of 2012-2013.

While the county acts as the overall taxing agency, sending out the tax statement, the county itself does not receive the lion’s share of tax dollars.

For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, all four school districts based in the county; Emmetsburg, West Bend-Mallard, Ruthven-Ayrshire and Graettinger-Terril, along with the Armstrong-Ringsted, Laurens-Marathon, Pocahontas Area and Sentral Community School Districts, all share in a total of $7,240,145.91 out of the total tax amount of $18,231,684.89. That amount equates to 39.71 percent of the total tax asking for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The actual Palo Alto County governmental tax asking totals $6,420,669.05, or 35.22 percent of the tax asking. The county’s actual tax asking covers the cost of governmental operations, such as the budgets of various departments such as Secondary Roads, the Sheriff’s Office, Jail, General Assistance, Mental Health and the various county offices, for example.

Corporations, or the towns located in the county; Emmetsburg, West Bend, Graettinger, Ruthven, Mallard, Ayrshire, Cylinder, Rodman and Curlew, receive $2,429,631.70 of the tax asking, 13.33 percent of the funding.

Next in line for a slice of the tax pie is the Palo Alto County Hospital, which receives 6.28 percent of the tax asking for a total of $1,145,515.12.

Support of the two area colleges serving the county, Iowa Lakes Community College in Area Three, and Iowa Central Community College for Area Five, received $445,068.86 in tax askings, 2.44 percent of the total.

There are five remaining funds that receive tax funding, starting with the county Assessor’s office, which receives $241,726.81 from the tax asking, 1.33 percent of the total. The 16 townships that comprise Palo Alto County receive .80 percent of the taxes, $146,598.80, while the Agricultural Extension Council receives .61 percent, for a total of $111,230.72 to operate its programs and services.

The final two tax recipients are the Special fund, which addresses the two benefitted fire departments, Graettinger and the Ringsted Benefitted Fire Districts, as well as ambulance services and the Lost Island Sanitary Sewer District. These subdivisions share in $49,188.70, or .27 percent of the tax asking.

Last in line, as decreed by the Code of Iowa, is the state Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Funds, which go to the state for ongoing research and prevention efforts against the two diseases. The levy amount of the Brucellosis and TB funds amounts to just one-tenth of a percent, or $1,909.22.