The Ottumwa Courier

January 15, 2013

Wapello County reviews pluses, minuses

County has had one bond issue in 14 years

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Over and over again, the Wapello County department heads review the pluses and minuses as they work on the next budget for Wapello County.

County Supervisor Jerry Parker said Monday that the first round of budget talks is under way for the supervisors and department heads. The budget work features changes as the department heads submit their recommendations.

“We’ll review the budget at the end and hear everyone’s reasoning about whether the money is available and set priorities for the funding or see if there’s another way to fund them,” Parker said.

“Right now, interest rates on bond issues are the lowest in history,” he added. “So we have the opportunity to do some resurfacing of county roads that need repair.”

But each year, the supervisors wait to do any road resurfacing because the cost goes up a certain amount, according to Parker.

He said the supervisors don’t create much debt, and the current situation will cost the county more by waiting than it will if the board pays the minimal interest.

“We may be able to save money by creating some debt and then waiting until budget time,” he said. “We’re on the verge of being able to do that.”

This is the fourth year in a row the supervisors have used money where it doesn’t increase property taxes. For the past three years, the supervisors haven’t experienced an increase.

“This is the fourth year in a row, and you do that sparingly in history if you can,” Parker said. “You can do major projects and not cause a tax increase.”

Wapello County has had one bond issue in 14 years.

“That’s all we’ve passed,” Parker said. “But it’s not a good decision to wait with the scenario we’re facing.”

Parker said waiting another year or two would cost more and would cause a big tax increase.

“But this year, everything is coming together, and we may be able to resurface three roads,” he added.