OTTUMWA — The Wapello County Board of Supervisors adopted the fiscal year 2022 budget during Tuesday's weekly meeting at the courthouse, capping a process in which both revenues and expenditures are up.
In all, the county is projected to bring in about $370,000 more in revenues from the current year, and will be lowering the property tax levy by about 7 cents for its residents.
Also, expenditures are expected to increase by about $1 million, with most of that devoted to roads and transportation. Salary increases and mental health costs also will contribute to the increase.
"The best thing is that we're able to continue our operations without any real reductions," vice chair Jerry Parker said. "We've not laid off any employees or cut any employees. We still have plans to do the capital improvements we planned to do. On top of that, we're able to reduce the overall rate.
"To be able to carry on operations like we have been, and still have a reduction in the tax rate, that's a real plus."
Parker said when the board met to discuss its goals for the budget, it was pretty simple: the county wanted to continue its services but not leave residents on the hook as much for those.
"It turned out pretty good," he said.
Parker credited the county's department heads for helping keep the budget in line. Supervisor Brian Morgan said Friday and Parker reiterated during the meeting that they never ask for more than they need.
"That's the key," he said. "We prepared the budget six or seven months before it goes into force. For them to look ahead at what their needs are, they do a good job. If they budgeted something and find out they can get by without it, they don't spend it. What we've told them is if they don't need something, don't spend it. But if they find out they do in the future, they will get it because that goes into a carryover balance.
"It's one thing to watch the expenditures, and another to watch your balances, so you don't get in trouble when something major comes up you didn't plan for," Parker said. "We've got the balances there to cover it if we have to amend the budget."
Parker said the expenditures are up, but some of those costs are out of the county's control. Also, some of the local option sales tax and Road Use Tax revenues will help pay for the costs of road repair, etc.
"You have inflationary costs, whether it's utilities or fuel. Those costs have gone up," he said. "I don't think the increase is because of any major planned things. It's just to cover inflationary things that happen each year."
In other business:
• During the meeting, county engineer Jeff Skalberg was notified the county had received about $300,000 in funds from the state's Highway Safety and Improvement Program, to be used for pavement markings and rumble strips to cover 20 miles of road. The rumble strips would be placed in areas that don't currently have them.
"Overall, to apply for this, we either have to do center-line rumble strips or edge-line rumble strips," Skalberg said. "And we have to groove in the pavement markings and paint 6-inch edge white lines."
Specifically, the road improvements would be done on the Agency-Hedrick Road, 73rd Street, Competine Road, Farson Road and 180th Street toward Pekin schools. Skalberg said those areas are "a mix of asphalt and concrete."