MARSHALL - For the fourth year in a row, Lyon County commissioners voted not to increase the county levy. At their regular meeting on Tuesday, members of the Lyon County Board approved a proposal to keep the 2012 total levy at about $12.1 million.
Commissioners discussed whether it would be prudent to raise the levy slightly, rather than have to make bigger increases at some point in the future.
"We will have to raise the levy at some point," said Commissioner Rodney Stensrud. However, a motion to raise the levy one-half of a percent failed 3-2, with Stensrud and Commissioner Rick Anderson voting in favor of the increase.
A motion to keep a zero levy increase then passed unanimously. The county hasn't increased its levy since 2008, commissioners noted.
Commissioners also approved an updated budget proposal presented by Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg. Taking into account changes commissioners had suggested during earlier budget discussions, Stomberg said the new proposal was about $97,000 smaller than the county's 2011 budget. If commissioners decided to keep the levy the same, he said, there were some possible uses for the additional funds.
One possibility that was discussed, but not acted on at Tuesday's meeting, was creating a separate county finance position. The idea of separating the county's auditor and treasurer duties had been broached before, without a decision being made by commissioners.
Lyon County Auditor/Treasurer Paula VanOverbeke commented on the proposal. While VanOverbeke said she understood the idea was being discussed partly because she doesn't intend to run for auditor/treasurer again, she still has three years remaining in her current term.VanOverbeke asked if there was something she or county staff were doing to prompt the discussion of a separate finance department.
VanOverbeke also cautioned that the auditor/treasurer's office does many things for the county. Separating out the treasurer's duties wouldn't be as simple as hiring a CPA, she said.
Stomberg and county commissioners said the discussion wasn't meant to be "punishment" for the auditor/treasurer or staff.
"It's not a broken system," Anderson said, but a separate financial office might be a way to make further improvements for the future.
No action was taken on the issue. Stomberg said the additional $97,000 in the budget would go into contingency funds, at least until commissioners could decide how it should be used.
Later at Tuesday's meeting, county commissioners voted to set salaries for elected county officials in 2012. Commissioner pay will remain the same as in 2011, at $17,500. Other elected officials will see salary increases ranging between $2,000 and $4,000 for 2012. The county recorder's salary was increased to $57,770 from $54,500. The county auditor/treasurer's salary was increased to $82,045 from $80,044. The county attorney's salary was increased to $101,600 from $97,700. The county sheriff's salary was increased to $86,050 from $82,740.
Salaries for appointed county officials, including the county engineer, county assessor and facilities supervisor will be set at the Jan. 3 commissioner meeting, Stomberg said.