OUTING -- Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson informed the county board Tuesday it appears Cass County's state mandated maximum levy increase for 2003 will be about 3 percent.
Administrator Robert Yochum said that increase will not cover wage contracts negotiated this year to take effect in 2003.
For this reason, the county board referred back to the budget committee the issue of a county-board moratorium set this year against adding any new employees. Several new employees had been authorized in the 2002 budget, but have not been added, because of the moratorium.
Among those would have been four additional sheriff's deputies. Staffing has remained at the 2001 level so far this year.
Anderson said 2003 budget work sheets will be issued to county department heads June 19. Those must be returned to the auditor-treasurer office by July 12. The budget committee will then begin analyzing department head requests for 2003 expenditures in weekly meetings from July 22 through Aug. 23.
The county board is scheduled to set a 2003 levy Sept. 3. Notices to property taxpayers will be mailed from Nov. 10 to 24 to indicate proposed 2003 taxes. New this year on those notices will be a section to show the difference between a zero increase and a potential 3 percent increase or whatever levy the board sets Sept. 3, Anderson said.
The Truth in Taxation public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 5, with final board action on the 2003 budget and levy scheduled for the regular Dec. 17 county board meeting. At that time, the board may lower the levy from that set Sept. 3, but may not increase it.
Anderson reported a new state law will allow Indian people living on a reservation such as Leech Lake to use a photo tribal identification card in place of a driver license to register to vote for the first time this fall.
The law takes effect Aug. 1.
Anderson used Shingobee Island Sewer District funds to pay past due and current electric bills to keep the system operating until litigation involving the district and sewer board is completed. Bills paid to date totaled $169.45.
She reported that despite a potentially lower cost, county employees will not be allowed to use prepaid telephone calling cards in place of regular calling cards. A regular card permits tracking of where calls were made, while a prepaid card does not.
There can be an unverifiable question raised of whether a county employee used a prepaid card for personal or county business, she explained.
Anderson reported a state audit of Cass's employee pay system found the county's current pay equity system fully compliant with state standards.
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