Winneshiek County's proposed tax rate for fiscal 2013-2014 won't increase, according to Winneshiek County Auditor Ben Steines.

The Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold its annual budget hearing Monday, March 11, at noon at the Winneshiek County courthouse.

While the supervisors are still working on the budget, the auditor said the property tax rate for residents of incorporated areas (cities) will likely be lower than last year, while the rate for rural residents should remain the same or be reduced slightly.

  "We're basically benefitting from the change in mental health redesign and the regionalization of mental health. It is saving our county residents some money. We're able to lower the mental health levy some and using that to offset changes in other funds so we don't have to raise the total (tax rate)," Steines explained.

IT expense

One of the biggest budget items in the upcoming fiscal year will be a one-time expenditure of about $100,000 for information technology equipment needed for the Decorah Metronet to become operational. Some of that expense will be shared by the city of Decorah, Steines said.

The Metronet is a fiber optic network that will provide enhanced communication between local agencies.

"We might get some of that back from the city when we figure out what we can share. It's a good example of cooperation (between the city and the county)," he said. "It started with the city and county sharing the dispatching center. And last year they hired and (shared) an information technology technician. Now we're looking at some of this IT equipment (to share)," he said.

The major road project next year will be the reconstruction of Pole Line Road, Steines said. Since there isn't enough money in the county's road fund to do all the projects needed, Steines said some road work that would be of "general benefit" to the county may be paid from the county's general fund. He said roadwork that would benefit tourism is an example of a project that would benefit the entire county.

Steines said based on preliminary budget estimates, most of the non-profit organizations and county commissions should be funded by the county at similar levels to last year.