The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Finance committee forwards levy cap resolution


July 13, 2019


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Hurley — It may only be a symbolic action, but Iron County will likely join other counties around the state in asking Madison to eliminate the state’s 0% levy cap, after the Board of Supervisors’ finance committee forwarded a resolution on the issue to the full county board Thursday.

“What are they going to do if all 72 counties send it in? They’re going to have to take some sort of action,” board member Scott Erickson said, regarding the resolution. “They’ve got to recognize it at least, right?”

The resolution targets a 2012 law that limits how much a local municipality can levy in taxes each year, according to the text of Price County’s resolution. Clerk Michael Saari said Iron County would model its resolution on the text of the one passed by Price County in June.

According to the resolution, the state law limits the tax year to, “No more than the greater of 0% of last year’s actual levy or a percentage equal to the percentage change in equalized value due to new construction less improvements removed.”

“The argument to get rid of it is, people at the local (level) know how much they need to spend on services for their own people. This is a thing through the state, saying, ‘You’re not going to do that anymore,’” Saari said.

Price County’s resolution argues the allowed amount hasn’t kept up with the Consumer Price Index, forcing the counties to take on debt or spend other funds to operate.

After the meeting, Saari told the Daily Globe the idea behind the cap was that counties would just not replace positions after employees retire. He said the idea may work downstate where counties have several hundred employees, but the small rural counties can’t afford not to fill vacancies.

“We only have 80 total employees. … We don’t have extra (personnel),” Saari said.

During the meeting, he said Iron County has been at its levy cap for the last several years and it has limited what the county can afford to do.

“We really need to hire two or three more people in Iron County and we’re at our levy cap. So when you do that, we’re stealing it out of our general fund every time,” said Saari. “You can only do that so long, that’s what scares me.”

In other action:

—The committee forwarded a proposed policy regarding county vehicles to the county board.


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