Rock County’s spending will swell by 8.4 percent in the county administrator’s 2019 proposed budget, jumping by $14.6 million over the 2018 budget.

In the budget, Rock County Administrator Josh Smith recommends a 1.1 percent increase in the tax levy, meaning the county would take in $720,500 more in overall property taxes.

The levy increase comes as Smith recommends cutting the county’s tax rate by almost 5 percent in 2019. On average, he proposes a rate of $6.20 per $1,000 in equalized property value.

But the dip in the tax rate does not necessarily signal lower taxes. Smith said county property taxes will increase on average because the county’s equalized value—the overall cash value of properties— has jumped by 6.3 percent.

The proposed budget calls for an average property tax hike of about $5 on a home valued at $100,000 last year. That figures in the lower tax rate, increased tax levy and the county’s equalized value.

Smith’s tax recommendations are countywide averages. Each municipality will have a different rate that depends on its tax levy and assessments.

Noteworthy in the proposed budget is the increase in spending. Overall capital improvement expenditures would rise by 42.4 percent, largely because of a courthouse security project estimated to cost $5.16 million next year.

Smith recommends increasing operating expenses by $10 million. Much of that is for overtime costs for the sheriff’s office, personnel, and programs such as evidence-based decision-making and comprehensive community services.

Forty percent of the county’s revenue comes from federal and state aid, and Smith said that revenue will increase by several million dollars. Half of the proposed budget would be spent on health and human services.

Smith presented the first draft of the 2019 budget at the Rock County Board meeting Thursday. Another budget presentation is planned for 9 a.m. Nov. 5.

A public hearing on the budget will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 7, and the board will vote on it at the annual budget meeting at 9 a.m. Nov. 13.

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