Cerro Gordo County officials waiting for state to decision on property tax flap before setting final budget

MASON CITY — Cerro Gordo County officials are wanting to start putting the final touches on the Fiscal Year 2024 budget that would start this coming July, but they are awaiting to see what state officials are going to do in dealing with an error in the formula that determines some property tax rates.

Each year, the Iowa Department of Revenue makes a statewide calculation that affects property tax rates and the error is connected to what’s called multi-residential property. A 2021 law failed to adjust the statewide formula used to determine how much cities, counties and schools can collect in property taxes. The error means local governments are getting less than expected from residential property taxes.

County budget director Heather Mathre told the supervisors during a work session this morning that while the outline of the budget has been made, she wants to wait and see what kind of a decision lawmakers make in dealing with the property tax dollars issue .  “I wouldn’t want to proceed until we know what our values are going to be. As you recall, we have to have two public hearings, one in which we publish our max levy, our maximum tax dollars. We do not want to even proceed until we know what our values are going to be.”

Mathre says some capital projects could be shifted into a different fund in the event there is an issue with property tax funding.   “We could grab some of these projects that would normally come out of our general fund and we could pay for them out of our capital projects fund. We do have some money in our capital projects fund. Initially we were going to spend that on some other projects, but now we’ve transferred those into our ARPA funds, so we have a balance in our capital projects fund that we can use for certain things. Those are some items tentatively I have moved into capital projects, but we can move them around as you see fit.”

The supervisors tentatively could have their public hearing on setting the maximum levy at their March 13th meeting, with a public hearing about the full budget at their March 27th meeting.