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Palo Alto County Assessor’s Budget Gains Approval

By Staff | Feb 6, 2014

Citing legislation requirements, Palo Alto County Assessor Lois Naig presented a budget of $265,561 for Fiscal 2014-2015 during the meeting of the Palo Alto County Conference Board on Tuesday, Feb. 4. The proposed budget of $265,561 is $16,318 higher than the current year’s budget of $249,244.

“Senate File 295 has created a lot of additional work in the Assessor’s Office during the past year,” Naig reported to the Conference Board members present, which included County Supervisors Ed Noonan, Keith Wirtz and Craig Merrill, along with Cylinder Mayor Arnold Heng West Bend Mayor Marilyn Schutz, and school board representatives Kevin Jensen of Graettinger-Terril and Ray Grandstaff of Ruthven-Ayrshire.

According to Naig, a major source of work in the office in the past months has been due to the Business Property Tax Credit that was set up by the state. “In Palo Alto County, we had 515 businesses eligible for this credit, and had 86 percent of those businesses respond.”

Naig also mentioned that the Assessor’s office had to examine business properties and multi-residential properties as they must be separated for assessment purposes. “We have to look at retail businesses in a building on the ground floor, and then the building has apartments on a second or third floor, and they have to be assessed separately. It’s just a lot more work.”

In regard to the increases in the Assessor’s budget, Naig explained that another state order was for the identification of Non-Croplands. “These would be permanent pastures, building sites and woodlands,” Naig said. “You would be surprised how many building sites we had to take off the tax roles because they were bulldozed in the past year.” Part of what the state is going to require is a GIS Land-Use Layer, which will help identify these non-croplands. I’ve added $10,000 to my budget for this in the coming year.”

Naig noted that in the past year, 150 building permits were recorded, providing construction that created an additional $13,467,000 in valuation to the county’s tax rolls. “But, as we checked on permits, I found several new implement sheds and grain bins that no building permits had been obtained, and people need to remember that building permits are required in Palo Alto County for all buildings.”

Turning to the budget, Naig pointed out the areas of increase were for salaries, as well as health insurance in the amount of $1,820, but that the largest increase was the $10,000 placed in the budget to cover the cost of the GIS Land Use Layer.

“The tax levy for this coming fiscal year will be .38861, or $38.86 per $1,000 of valuation,” Naig said, “which is lower than the current levy of .4041 for the current fiscal year.”

With no further comments, Marilyn Schutz moved for approval of the budget, and a second was offered by Kevin Jensen. The motion passed unanimously.

The board set 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25 in the Supervisor’s Board Room of the courthouse as the time and date for the final public hearing on the Assessor’s Budget.