Board chair touts innovate measures
The Anoka County Board of Commissioners has voted in favor of a 2014 budget that cuts the net property tax levy by $1 million to $96,517,399, comparable to levy levels a decade ago.
The proposed 2014 budget of $278,047,330 should result in property tax reductions for most low- and moderate-value Anoka County homes and many commercial and industrial properties. This is the third consecutive year the levy has been lowered.
Board of Commissioners Chair Rhonda Sivarajah points to innovate solutions such as imaging software which reduces paper usage, utility management programs in county buildings, and the County Board’s focus on paying with cash and reducing debt. Teleconferencing software will reap future savings, allowing employees to attend meetings and trainings sessions online.
More evening hours are being added at the Rum River and Northtown libraries and the Ramsey License Center will be open additional morning hours to better meet customer needs. In addition, the county is constructing many road projects using concrete rather than asphalt because the price difference has lessened. Using concrete doubles the life of the roadway and eliminates potholes. The 2014 Capital Improvement Program includes nearly $54 million in capital investments.
Using technology to make government more accessible to citizens and customers is also a priority. The county will launch a website in the coming year with the priority on mobile access. Obsolete election equipment is being replaced with new technology that is easier for voters and election workers to use and more efficient at counting absentee ballots.
The county’s transparency efforts earned a Sunny Award from the nationally acclaimed Sunshine Review. This year, only 247 of the more than 7,000 government websites ranked by Sunshine Review earned a Sunny Award. Anoka County is the only county in Minnesota to receive a perfect rating.
In addition to lowering the property tax levy, the County Board in August repealed the Minnesota Wheelage Tax, saving taxpayers $1.4 million annually. This move occurred after the board was faced with doubling the tax to $10 or eliminating it.