The Sarpy County Board of Commissioners received a report on the county's proposed 2022 fiscal year budget at a special budget hearing Tuesday afternoon.
The budget keeps the county’s property tax levy flat.
“The growth we’ve seen in Sarpy County over the past several years shows no signs of slowing down, which is why this budget invests so heavily in the future. We’re tackling new road projects across the county and building a new correctional center -- and we’re doing it without raising the levy,” Sarpy County Board Chair Don Kelly said.
“We recognize that keeping the levy flat does not mean some residents won’t see a tax increase, since the average property valuation increase in Sarpy County was 4% this year. No one wants to pay more in taxes, including me. But Sarpy County citizens deserve great infrastructure, a safe community and a very high quality of life. This budget accomplishes that and provides our citizens with a transparent and honest assessment of how we are spending their hard-earned money,” Kelly added.
The County’s proposed $241.5 million budget includes $36.3 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Half of the funds were received in May. The other half will be received in May 2022. Not all of the funds will be spent within the next year, but can be used for eligible costs through Dec. 31, 2026.
The budget has increased by $58.2 million or 31.7% over last year.
The ARPA funds, along with more money coming in through property taxes, Public Works and sewers funds, show a cash increase for the 2022 budget. The influx of cash requires the county to balance the budget by adding more expenses: expense totals must be the same as income.
“This increase is not because of a rash of spending, but because of a large amount of cash carried over from the prior year,” ” said Bill Conley, Sarpy County’s chief financial officer. “This is an unprecedented record budget for us, not because of spending but primarily because of cash.
“In the general fund, we have a large amount of capital expenditures budgeted,” Conley said. “Because of the strong cash position, we are able to borrow less than we anticipated on the corrections project. This will benefit the taxpayers for years to come.”
Major projects funded in the budget include:
• $20 million for road projects, which is in addition to $40 million in bond funds available for road projects;
• $19 million for construction the Sarpy County Correctional Center, which is in addition to $41 million in bond funds available for this project; and
• $1.25 million for remodeling of the administration wing of the courthouse, which is necessary because of the correctional center construction.
“Sound, fiscally conservative planning has put us in a position that allows us to move forward with these once-in-a-generation projects, which will benefit the county now and well into the future,” said Commissioner David Klug, vice-chair of the Sarpy County Board.
Sarpy County hasn’t raised its levy since 2008. In fact, the County Board lowered the levy in 2015 to 29.69 cents per $100 of valuation, where it will remain if the proposed budget is approved. At that rate, the County expects to collect $57.9 million in property taxes, which means approximately 76% of the budget comes from sources other than property taxes.
A Sarpy County resident who lives in a home valued at $200,000 pays $593.80 annually for all County services, including the 911 center, Sheriff’s Office, Public Works and other County departments dedicated to serving residents.
The board is expected to consider action on the proposed budget at 3 p.m. Aug. 31 in the Sarpy County Boardroom, after the Papillion Times's press deadline.
-- Rachel George also contributed to this report.