Budget and tax numbers looking good so far

THE NEWS LOOKS SOMEWHAT good so far for local property taxpayers.

The dog days of summer are when the real heavy lifting begins – or in some cases, is well underway – in the process of writing budgets for the coming year for counties, cities, villages, towns and school districts.

All of those entities set the property tax levies and tax rates that add up to the final property tax bill that will be arriving in property owners’ mailboxes come December – still some four months and many degrees on the thermometer away.

None of those budgets – and tax levies and rates – have been finalized yet, but enough preliminary work is done and figures set that a general picture is emerging.

The Plymouth School Board got its first glimpse of the projected 2017-18 school year budget and, while spending is expected to be up about 5.6 percent, the property tax levy – the money the district gets from taxpayers to support the budget – is expected to decrease, by about 2.3 percent.

That means the school district portion of the total tax bill for district residents should decrease, which is of course welcome.

At the county, most of the early work on the 2018 budget has been completed and the total picture is coming together.

County Administrator Adam Payne presented those figures to the County Board at their meeting earlier this month.

The county is looking to increase its property tax levy by about 1.4 percent but will decrease the property tax rate by

20 cents, to $5.65 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

The county will accomplish this up-and down trick thanks to an increase in total assessed property values across the county greater than the increase in the tax levy. For the property owner whose assessment didn’t increase – or increased less than 1.4 percent – it means the county share of their tax bill will go down as well.

The city of Plymouth is working on its 2018 budget and, while no figures have been announced yet, the city has held the line on the property tax levy for five of the last six years and should be aiming to do the same again this year.

Thus it appears that taxpayers in most of the county should not have to worry about a huge increase in their bill when it arrives in December – and many should enjoy seeing a lower number on the bottom line than the previous year.

That good news is the result of much long, hard work and dedication from public employees and government officials across the county.

Just as family budgets face pressure from increasing costs for goods and services and increasing demands every year, so do government and school budgets. For every dollar that comes in, there are legitimate and justifiable expenses and demands that far exceed that amount.

The people we have elected to serve us, and the people they employ, have made a diligent effort to be good stewards of the public funds. They are doing that well again this year.

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