The 2018 Ellis County budget will see no increase in the general fund mill levy.
“The good news about this budget, as I’ve noted in the written materials, is that revenues are growing faster than expenditures, which we like to see,” County Administrator Phillip Smith-Hanes said in Monday evening’s meeting of the Ellis County Commission. “And there is no mill levy increase as presented for the county general fund.”
The news was so good, Commission Chairwoman Barbara Wasinger asked Smith-Hanes to repeat it.
While the mill levy for the general fund will not increase, there will be a one-half of one mill increase for Fire District No. 1, which includes all but a small portion of northeast Ellis County and the cities of Hays, Victoria and Ellis.
Increases in oil valuations and some departments requesting less money than in 2017 balanced increased budget requests from other departments and an increase in health insurance costs for county employees.
Coverage for the State Employee Health Plan for next year increased between 9.5 percent to 10.5 percent.
“For those who want to say our income increased, that kept us up to date with our health insurance huge increases,” Wasinger said.
“So we were able to keep the mil levy down despite the huge increase in health insurance because of other resources.”
The commissioners offered thanks to Smith-Hanes and department heads for their work on keeping budget requests low this year.
A public hearing on the county budget will be Aug. 7.
In other business at Monday's Ellis County Commission meeting, commissioners:
• Approved a request from the Ellis County Historical Society to spend $5,000 set aside in 2016 for a display on the county’s sesquicentennial. The funds will be used to purchase equipment for three indoor/outdoor portable display systems.
• Approved a letter of agreement between the Ellis County and Osborne County health departments for the Women Infants and Children program. Osborne County acts as a regional coordinator for the WIC program.
• Formally accepted a $100,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation to purchase four cardiac monitors. Local matching funds total $4,984.45. The cardiac monitors will replace equipment in EMS vehicles.