2013 budget, levy, fees on county board’s agenda

            Money is the focus of the Washington County Board of Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday.

Commissioners are expected to act on resolutions certifying 2013 levies for the county, Regional Rail and Housing and Redevelopment authorities and adopting the 2013 RRA and county budgets.

The board also holds a public hearing on the county’s 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Plan before considering a resolution adopting the final CIP.

Following their business meeting, commissioners will hold a workshop to discuss revisions to the county’s fee schedule.

According to documents provided to the County Board, the proposed fee revisions would cover a larger percentage of costs and see a larger percentage of actual costs paid by developers and users of county services rather than taxpayers. County officials said the anticipated $5,500 increase in revenues is factored into the 2013 county budget.

Board action on the 2013 budgets and levies comes five days after the commissioners held a public hearing last Thursday night on the proposals.

The county will see a gross 2013 levy of more than $93 million. Factoring in more than $6.8 million in state county program aid, the net levy is more than $86.5 million, representing no increase over the 2012 levy.

The 2013 RRA levy of $574,800 and HRA levy of more than $3.3 million also represent no increases over the agencies’ 2012 levies.

When non-levy revenues are added to the county and RRA levies, the county’s total 2013 revenue is more than $173 million.

Highlights of the 2013 county budget include five additional positions in the Community Services Department to help handle increases in the number of health care and food support cases the department handles and restoration of Monday hours at Washington County Library branches in January, along opening the R.H. Stafford branch in Woodbury on Sundays during the school year.

The CIP public hearing gives county residents and city officials the opportunity to weigh in on the plan before commissioners approve it. Officials from several cities have sent letters to the county concerning specific projects of interest. Among them were:

Lake Elmo, which asks the county to consider two projects as part of the CIP no later than 2015. They are reconstruction of County State Aid Highway 17 from 30th Street to Minnesota Highway 5, and safety improvements at the CSAH 17-MN 5 intersection.

Marine on St. Croix officials expressed concern that the CIP does not identify improvements to CSAH 4 from MN 95 to CSAH 3, Olinda Trail North. In their letter, city officials said CSAH 4 “has severely deteriorated” from weather and age and needs drainage and maintenance work.

“Currently during heavy rains, water is found standing on the roadway that is trapped from draining freely or in other areas draining too fast and creating erosion issues,” writes Marine City Clerk Lynette Peterson.

At the workshop, county officials will discuss proposed 2013 fee increases. Among the new fees proposed, county residents using Washington County Parks facilities could see fee increases for using certain park campsites and shelters

Washington Public Works officials are proposing replacing its map price lists with a round-dollar amount price table and raising plat fees to better reflect the county’s costs.

Plats are official documents describing and delineating property boundaries approved by the County Board and recorded in the County Recorder’s Office. They are reviewed for accuracy and legal compliance and reviewed and approved by the County Surveyor as required by state law.

“Plat review fees have not been increased since 2002,” said an administration memo to commissioners. “Current fees are no covering the cost of review which subsidizes development and places burden on other taxpayers.”

The county currently charges a $200 base plat review fee and a $300 minimum fee, with additional fees for number of lots, GIS and subsequent reviews. That means a developer pays the county $525 for four plat reviews.

County officials propose raising fees to a total of $925 for four plat reviews and fees. The proposed plat fee would put the county just behind plat fees charged by Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota counties and ahead of Anoka, Carver and Scott counties.

Although the board will not take action on the fee schedule Tuesday, county policy calls for commissioners to approve any county fee increases.

Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday as the RRA, with their regular board meeting convening about 9:15. Both sessions are in the fifth-floor boardroom at the Government Center in Stillwater.

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