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Board splits on budget plan

The Washington County Board on Tuesday approved a preliminary 2010 budget that would slightly increase property tax collections, but some commissioners want more spending cuts and no levy increase in a final budget plan.

"I want to see it dropped down," Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek of Oakdale said of the proposed levy hike.

Commissioners approved a preliminary levy hike of 1.94 percent above 2009 property tax collections. That includes a 0.94 percent increase to cover basic county operations; another 1 percent bump would help pay debt on a potential $10 million bond sale for the county's Land and Water Legacy program.

Overall, the budget proposes $144 million in county operating expenses, down 1.4 percent from 2009 spending. While the county levy would increase 1.94 percent, the effect on homeowners could be a decrease in the county portion of their property taxes, finance officials said. One estimate showed that a house valued at $250,000 would see a $22 drop in their county taxes, from $670 to $648.

Commissioners Lisa Weik of Woodbury said more spending cuts can be made.

"This is the time to hold the line on property taxes," she said.

Commissioners will vote on a final budget Dec. 15.

See the Sept. 23 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin for the full story.