Commission Approves $1,500 Raises

Billions of dollars worth of investments by oil and natural gas companies are increasing property tax flows in Marshall County by such a level that commissioners can afford to give all full-time employees $1,500 pay raises – while also reducing the levy rates for local landowners.

“We are blessed in that we have the natural resources here that many counties do not have,” said County Administrator Betsy Frohnapfel, following the Tuesday meeting at which commissioners Don Mason and Bob Miller voted to approve the fiscal year 2015 budget of $17.1 million. Commissioner Brian Schambach was absent from the meeting due to injury.

Frohnapfel said the county has 103 full-time employees who will receive raises when the new fiscal year begins July 1. She said each elected official – Sheriff Kevin Cecil, Prosecutor Jeff Cramer, Assessor Christopher Kessler, Clerk Jan Pest, Circuit Clerk David Ealy and the Commission – will have the discretion to distribute the raises as they see fit, so it is possible for some employees to get slightly more or less than the $1,500 amount.

The budget message signed by Mason states, “This proposed budget includes funds in each elected official’s budget intended to give full-time employees a salary increase of $1,500 for the next fiscal year.”

Part-time county workers should also receive a pay raise, but the amount is not specified in the budget, as it states these salaries will be “adjusted accordingly.”

The $17.1 million figure includes both general fund revenue of $13.6 million and coal severance revenue of $3.5 million. The fiscal 2015 budget is $382,579 more than the one approved at this time last year, an increase Frohnapfel attributes to higher property valuations throughout the county.

“For the sixth time in nine years, we are able to reduce the levy rates,” Mason said. “In the last five years, we have been able to reduce the levy rate by 25.66 percent.”

Starting July 1, the levy rates will be reduced as follows:

– Class I (agricultural property, including livestock and farm equipment) – from 10 cents per $100 of value to 9.85 cents;

– Class II (residential property) – from 20 cents per $100 of value to 19.7 cents;

– Class III and IV (anything that does not fit in Class I or II; Class III is outside a municipality, while Class IV is inside a municipality) – from 40 cents per $100 of value to 39.4 cents.

County officials estimate these cuts will save taxpayers $145,490 in fiscal 2015.

“We have allocated funds for additional equipment in some departments so that all elected officials have the needed equipment to perform their duties,” Mason said. “We believe this budget again serves the needs of our elected officials so that they may operate their offices in an efficient manner.”