The Sherburne County Board of Commissioners is starting its budget preparations after reviewing the 2023 budget schedule at a meeting on May 3.

County Administrator Bruce Messelt said overall, the schedule follows the normal annual process with the exception of moving up department draft strategic priority review to June 21, whereas this was done in July last year.

On July 22, snapshots will be due from all departments. Budget workshops will be held Aug. 2-3. Preliminary 2023 regional bail budget and levy and preliminary 2023 budget and levy will be voted on Sept. 6 and 20, respectively. A public hearing will be held Dec. 1 and then Dec. 20 the board will adopt the 2023 budget and levy.

“You’re going to notice a little more, perhaps some darker clouds on the horizon than in previous years, just with what’s happening internally and externally,” Messelt said.

According to the presentation shown to the board at the May 3 meeting, the 10-year average for a levy increase over the previous year has been less than 3%. In recent years, however, Messelt said it was more like 4% or 5%.

Residents have been concerned that the increase in home valuations and sale prices will be reflected in property taxes come 2023. The average sale price in Sherburne County was $344,000 in 2021, compared to $293,600 in 2020 and $271,700 in 2019.

While valuation doesn’t necessarily equate to taxation, Messelt said, the county is facing some other budgeting factors. These include, according to the presentation:

•Nine positions fully funded and four partially funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. Those positions will have to be evaluated when ARPA funding ends.

•Phase down and out of levy support from enterprise funds (personnel and capital).

•No appreciable increase in CPA anticipated.

•No significant increase or decrease in unfunded and underfunded mandates.

•Rising costs of labor and benefits. 

•Rising inflation, especially for energy, goods and services.

•Risk of recession.

•ARPA funding authority expires in 2024.

•Sherco transition hitting the levy in pay 2025.

“It’s not as rosy as it has been in the past,” Messelt said. “The words ‘constraint’ and ‘discipline’ are what I would suggest this year.”

Messelt said staff is hoping the increase would be in the single digits, at least for the preliminary discussions but the “days of 3% might be behind us, just because of what we’ve done with our labor agreements.”

“These are challenges that come from a growing county and the services that come of that, (services) that need to be provided,” Board Chair Barbara Burandt said. “This is like the perfect storm.”

Messelt said the county will try to control the increase as it does every year.

“We’ve always tried to come up with a reasonable number,” he said.

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