Linn County to increase property tax slightly for homeowners

County employees to get raises ranging from 2.25 percent to 3 percent

The Linn County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday unanimously approved a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that raises the average homeowner’s property tax about 4 percent on the county’s portion of the local property-tax bill.

The budget includes pay raises of 2.25 percent for most county employees, though union employees in the Sheriff’s Office will see a 2.95 percent salary increase.

The top elected officials — the five supervisors, county attorney, sheriff, auditor, treasurer and recorder, as well as 23 deputies whose salaries are tied to the elected officials’ salaries — will receive salary increases of about 3 percent.

The only piece of controversy in the new budget has been the decision last month by the supervisors to increase their pay an additional 25 percent, which happened when they defined their jobs as full-time instead of 80-percent time.

The Board of Supervisors went from three members to five members in January 2009, and after some public complaints, agreed to 80-percent-time pay with the larger board.

Last month, supervisors reported similar complaints from constituents who thought supervisors had agreed to permanently accept lower pay than other county elected officials when voters decided to enlarge the board. The supervisors said they had not agreed to any permanent cut in pay.

In the new budget, supervisors will earn $95,671, up from their current $74,362 salaries. Their new salaries will be the same as those of auditor, treasurer and recorder. The county attorney will earn $152,298 in the new budget and the sheriff, $125,475.

The total number of county employees will remain about the same in the new budget, the equivalent of 790 full-time employees.

The property taxes paid by commercial and industrial property owners will remain the same as now in the new budget.

The 4-percent property-tax increase for homeowners reflects a similar tax increase approved on Tuesday by the Cedar Rapids City Council on its portion of the local property tax bill. Taken together, the city and county increases equate to a 4 percent increase in their combined portions of the total local property-tax bill.

In Cedar Rapids, property taxes levied by the city and school district each comprise about 40 percent of the overall bill, while Linn County's portion is less than 20 percent. A small piece of property tax revenue goes to a few smaller entities, including Kirkwood Community College and the City Assessor’s Office.

For those living in the Cedar Rapids school district, the district has said it won’t decide on a property-tax increase or decrease on its portion of the total local property tax bill until April.

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