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Monday, August 17, 2009

Canyon County Adopts Tenative Budget, Total Taxes Down, Levy Rate Up

The Board of County Commissioners signed the tentative budget for Fiscal Year 2010 Aug. 13. The budget is for just over $69 million, down $9 million from the previous fiscal year, and $14 million from the FY08 budget of $83.3 million.

A public Budget Hearing is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 1 in the Public Meeting Room in the Courthouse.

In preparing the budget, the commissioners asked all Elected Officials and department heads to be very frugal, and only include budget items that are critical to the mission of the county.

Based on Idaho budget law, the Commissioners had an additional $3.4 million in property tax dollars available, but chose to leave that money in the hands of the taxpayers, and reduce the county’s budget instead.

“In these economic times, it’s critical that the county do everything we can to help our taxpayers,” said Commissioner Kathy Alder. “Leaving $3.4 million in taxpayers’ hands, and keeping our levy low, was very important to us as commissioners.”

Included in the budget is the restoration of employee pay, which had been cut 2.5 percent in March to make up for predicted budget shortfalls in the FY09 budget year, as well as an additional $70 per month per employee being added to the county’s portion of health insurance premiums.

“Canyon County is doing our part to help the taxpayers of Canyon County,” said Commissioner David Ferdinand. “Our department heads were diligent in their efforts to keep costs, and therefore property taxes, as low as possible. We’re all taxpayers, so we understand how hard it is on the people of Canyon County when their taxing districts raise taxes. Our goal was to make it as painless as possible, while still providing the services we’re statutorily required to provide.”

One of the areas where the most savings will be seen is personnel. Approximately 47 positions in the county will not be filled in the upcoming fiscal year; a number of those were left unfilled for all or part of the current year.

While the county’s levy rate will increase 10.2 percent, the rate is still less than it was in 2005 and 2006. A total of $36.6 million will come to the county from property taxes.

“It is with great relief after much effort on the part of the Commissioners, Elected Officials and department heads that we were able to balance the budget, and keep it at a level that will have minimal effect on taxpayers,” said Commissioner Steve Rule. “We’ve done our part not to raise property taxes, and hope for the sake of taxpayers that cities, schools and other taxing districts are able to do the same.”

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