Butler commissioners set mill levy reduction goal

Chad Frey
Butler County Times Gazette

There was some good news at the Butler County Commission this week when the county began a review of capital improvement requests for the 2021 budget year — the combination of paying off a building debt and anticipated increased payments from a pipeline to the county means there's more money available. 

When the CIP requests were presented, there was a change from years past. The initial listings for district court were not filtered — meaning all requests were placed in front of the commission. 

"We want to wait until the strategic retreat later those month to whittle down based on commission goals and priorities," said Ryan Adkison,  Assistant County Administrator/Finance Director "I think all the requests are reasonable, but they are not filtered based on finances. He did not have to wait that long to learn at least one commissioner's goal and priorities for the next budget"

He did not have to wait until the retreat to hear priorities from a pair of commissioners — and that priority is to reduce the county mill levy. 

Jeff Masterson stated, right up front, his personal goal for the budget process.

"Personally I want to see a two mill reduction," Masterson said. "I think we can afford it. ... I am hard core at two."

Commissioner Dan Woydziak threw his support behind a mill levy reduction, though was more reserved on numbers. 

"I think two is a little ambitious. I think 1 to 1.5 would be my [target]/ That is just off the cuff, without looking at stuff or having estimates,' Woydziak said. 

The ,ill levy is applied to property based on assessed value — one mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of assessed value. 

"We have been responsible for a number of years and we can make that happen. My stated goal has always been to try and equalize mills to the best of my ability in my area and I think that is a step that I can take."

Adkison estimated one mill equates to about $800,000 in revenue for the county, meaning droping two mills would drip revenues about $1.6 million. Adkison estimated that even doing that, there could be around 1.4 mills available for the CIP thanks to the expanded revenue from the pipeline, the elimination of debt by the county and federal funds. 

"How we get there, I do not know, but I am going to be adamant," Masterson said. "I think we can do that and still do good things, look at projects. We want to focus on core responsibilities and not venture into areas we do not need to be or taking on things we do not need to take on."