Facing rising costs related to public safety, the Anoka County Board last week approved a preliminary property tax levy increase of 3.9 percent.
“Public safety has long been a top priority for this county board,” said Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah, chair. “The levy increase we are proposing will fund seven new positions in the Sheriff’s Office and four new dispatcher positions in our 911 Emergency Communications Center.”
Additional detention deputies are needed to provide adequate supervision in the county jail, where the average daily inmate population has climbed from 54 in 1981 to 247 this year, nine over capacity. It will also help reduce the need for detention deputies to work overtime hours which not only takes a toll on the deputies and their families, but is costly as well.
The number of 911 calls is up more than 15 percent from 2010, necessitating the hiring of at least four new dispatchers to handle the growing volume of requests for assistance.
The 2018 budget is also impacted by a projected eight and one-half percent jump in employee health insurance premiums. “We are certainly not unique in facing rising health insurance premiums,” Sivarajah said. “Employers everywhere — public and private — are dealing with these significant increases. It is a cost of doing business and necessary to attract and retain quality workers.”
The county board will vote to adopt the final levy in December. To learn more about the county budget and property tax levy, plan to attend the “Truth in Taxation” meeting on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 6 p.m. in Room 705 of the Anoka County Government Center in Anoka.
Anoka County only has authority over the county portion of the property tax bill; cities and school districts have their own taxing authority.