During Tuesday's County Commission meeting, the commissioners convened a public hearing to discuss the proposed Revenue Neutral Rate for Saline County. New regulation, established in 2021 by the state legislature, mandates that if a local government intends to surpass their revenue neutral rate, they must conduct an additional hearing alongside their regular budget hearing.
The Revenue Neutral Rate (RNR) refers to the hypothetical mill levy at which an entity would generate the same revenue as in the previous year. If, for example, an entity collected $1 million in taxes in 2023 and sought to collect $1.1 million in 2024, a hearing would be obligatory.
However, Saline County is not only considering surpassing the RNR, but also proposing a mill levy increase due to inflationary pressures on the budget. This prompted questions from concerned citizens during the hearing.
Norman, a resident, voiced his concern at the podium, emphasizing the importance of taxpayer input in decisions regarding tax increases. "Are we going to get to vote on having this increase? Because, we're the ones paying the taxes. So we should have a say in that," he stated.
Scott, another resident, shared his confusion regarding the notice he received in the mail, as it lacked clarity about the extent of the tax increase. He sought clarification, asking if the increase was attributed to inflation.
Commissioner Vidricksen responded, noting the necessity of maintaining a budget for the upcoming year and the proposed increase to accommodate it. "We have a budget that we adhear to. We gotta be able to fund it next year. The budget that is proposed for next year is an increase. So we have to have an increase in taxes to fund the budget," Commissioner Vidricksen explained.
The Board of County Commissioners proceeded to pass a resolution to levy a property tax rate that surpasses the Revenue Neutral Rate. The resolution, dated August 22, 2023, states that the County will impose a property tax rate estimated at 39.901 mills, equivalent to a total levy of $27,799,855. This resolution takes immediate effect and remains in place until further action by the Board of County Commissioners. The vote was 4-0. Commissioner Shadwick was not present.