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County plans no tax hike
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Dawson County commissioners are expected to adopt the tax digest on which the 2014 budget will be based without raising the millage rate Thursday.

According to the digest, revenue from property tax collections has dropped from $12 million to $8.3 million over the last five years.

The continued decline has Commissioner Gary Pichon concerned that needed upgrades on roads, bridges and culverts will continue to be delayed.

"The amount of taxes that we have been collecting from the citizens of the county has continued to drop over five years," he said. "That's what we've contended with in terms of revenue stream diminishment of that major piece of our revenue stream.

"I for one would be willing to look at increasing the millage rate to recover some of this lost income in property tax if that's necessary to cover the gaps.

"The real risk we run is on our culverts and our bridges, and if we're willing to take that risk as a group that's OK."

Commission Chairman Mike Berg said his recommendation is to leave the county's portion of the millage rate at 8.138 mills, as it has been for the last several years.

"It's going to be tight as usual, and you'll probably hear from some departments who say [they'd] like to get a little bit more," he said. "But when we finish, we'll come up with something that's balanced and will not require us to increase above 8.138."

The levy is based on the valuations of about $959 billion of property in unincorporated Dawson and $63.6 million for the incorporated areas.

The millage rate is part of a formula used to calculate property taxes, where one mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value.

Berg is in the process of meeting with department heads and constitutional officers to discuss the county's 2014 budget.

"I told them in the initial meeting that we're going to stay flat for at least the next two years," he said. "There's no doubt they have needs, and we're going to do what we can to manage those needs effectively for the citizens.

"The recommendation is that we don't raise the millage rate, and I think we can manage with what we've got this year."

Berg is tentatively set to present the budget proposal to the full commission Aug. 8.

In a 3-0 vote July 12, the Dawson County Board of Education decided to raise its portion of the millage rate to 17.246, an increase of 1.7 percent.

For homeowners whose house is valued at $100,000, that amounts to about $40 more per year in taxes. There was no public opposition to the increase.