NEWSBRIEF: Washington County Board sets preliminary 2019 levy

The Washington County Board of Commissioners set the county’s proposed property tax levy for 2019 on Sept. 18, and approved proposed budgets for the county, the Regional Railroad Authority, and the Community Development Agency.

The board has been reviewing the proposed budget since it was first introduced by county staff Aug. 14. The board also reviewed detailed budget recommendations from each of the county’s departments. The preliminary levy may be reduced before the board sets a final levy in December, but it may not be raised.

The county’s proposed property tax net levy for 2019 is $108.1 million, an increase of 5.47 percent over 2018. The county’s voter-approved Land and Water Program levy will be $1.1 million, with no change from 2018.

The county’s non-levy revenue is expected to be $139.7 million, an increase of 27.17 percent over 2018. Operating expenditures are expected to be $187.9 million, an increase of 6.59 percent, and capital expenditures are expected to be $79.5 million, including $31 million from bond proceeds.

The proposed property tax levy for the Washington County Regional Railroad Authority is $660,000 for 2019, which is a reduction of 15 percent from 2018, and the proposed property tax levy for the Washington County Community Development Agency is $5.23 million.

The net property tax levy increase of 5.47 percent over the 2018 levy is estimated to result in a drop of the county’s tax rate by 1.5 percent. This would be the fifth year in the last six that the county’s tax rate decreased. The impact of the proposed levy on the owner of a median valued home in the county, which is $273,200, would be an increase of $36 a year in county taxes, offset by a $1 reduction in the county’s Regional Rail Authority tax. That is based on the average home’s value increasing 5.7 percent during the past year.

The increase in the levy is spurred in part by service demands from a population that grew 1.5 percent during the last year, and inflationary costs of goods and services that is currently close to 3 percent annually.

A public hearing on the county’s budget will be conducted Dec. 4, and the final budget will be adopted Dec. 11.

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