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Dodge County discusses new budget, building and residential code

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Dodge County Board

The Dodge County Board of Supervisors took its first look at the county’s budget for 2021-2022 at its meeting Wednesday morning.

The budget must be finalized at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 25 to prepare for a public hearing on Sept. 8.

County Clerk Fred Mytty described the budget as “aggressive” in terms of paying debt off from about $12.8 million in bank loans, as he said last year’s budget was more expensive.

“With COVID around, I used that old adage that you estimate low your revenues and high your expenses, so I estimated low on revenues, and they came in pretty good,” he said. “So that left a good balance in many of the funds.”

Mytty said the county’s cash on hand went up this year by 49.2% due to the American Rescue Plan Act Fund, money returning to the Flood Relief Fund from the state and federal governments and the Inheritance Tax Funds.

Additionally, Mytty said the budget has $1,000,000 in new taxes in the Capital Improvement/Economic Development Fund, but no additional taxes in the Building Fund.

“If we transfer no money, we’re only about $400,000 above last year’s budget,” he said. “We transferred $700,000 last year, so we’re going to be less than last year’s if we transfer that money.”

With only a 3.66% increase in taxes, Mytty said he expects to see the county’s levy go down if nothing more is done.

Mytty, who met with the Finance Committee on Tuesday to review the document, asked to meet one more time after county valuations are finalized before Aug. 25.

The county also unanimously approved adopting the 2018 International Building and Residential Code effective Sept. 1.

Zoning Administrator Jean Andrews said the code had been accepted by the State of Nebraska, as well as several towns including North Bend.

“We waited more or less for the City of Fremont, which they have now adopted it,” she said. “And so now we’re thinking that we should be right in time with the City of Fremont.”

As the county was previously following the 2012 code, Chairman Bob Missel said the switch was the right action to take.

“If there seems to be an issue in the building code that we feel is unfair that we haven’t fought in this, we can always go back in and pull it out,” Supervisor Lon Strand said. “I know it seems like a broad stroke to just do this, but we need to follow suit and do what everybody else is doing at this point.”

The board also approved an interlocal agreement with Sarpy County to house youths at their Juvenile Justice Center at a daily rate of $235 per detainee and an amendment to an agreement with Saunders County to house inmates at their jail at a daily rate of $73 per inmate.

While the Sarpy County agreement passed unanimously, the Saunders County agreement’s amendment passed 6-1, with Supervisor Doug Backens voting against.

Dodge County Attorney Paul Vaughan said the higher rate for juveniles was due to the increase in security and services provided.

“We use Madison County most of the time, so this is just kind of a fall back,” he said. “But Madison County has a fairly similar rate.”

The county also unanimously approved an master services agreement with CoreTech of Omaha for information technology services.

Missel said while the initial assessment with CoreTech was approved on July 28, he said the county didn’t approve the MSA.

Vaughan said he was satisfied to the agreement and said his only concern was whether the study could be shared without violating the confidentiality or proprietary portion of the contract.

“I sent an email to Mr. [Christopher] Vilim and he replied that we would be able to share this study to put it out for bids,” he said. “And so I think that’s the last concern we had, and I think that this is ready to proceed.”

The council approved the agreement and Missel’s signature, as well as an attachment of the agreement signed at the last meeting. Supervisor Dan Weddle was not present for the vote.

In other news, the board approved a transfer of $311,000 from the Inheritance Tax Fund to the Flood Control Fund and setting the final allocation of levy for entities under the county’s 15 cents levy authority.

During committee reports, Missel informed the board that the American Rescue Plan Act would provide the county with more than $7 million.

Due to the complexity of what the funding can be used on, Missel said he and Emergency Manager Tom Smith decided to create a subcommittee to advise the Finance Committee on its allocation.

“I have asked about a dozen organizations and representatives from those organizations from around the community, not necessarily Dodge County government, but some people outside of that in the nonprofit arena, to participate in that subcommittee,” he said. “And I’m pleased to say I’ve had an excellent response and willingness for those individuals.”

Missel said Supervisors Bob Bendig and Strand would serve on the committee, as well as Dodge County Treasurer Gail Bargstadt.

Let's turn quickly to the house. One of the newest members made quite the splash. Marjorie Taylor Greene. She could be stripped of her seat on the education panel. What action is being taken today with regards to that? Well, really two things that people are going to have their eyes on today. One is the house rules committee meeting that is happening at 3:00 this afternoon. They are considering a resolution to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from her two budget -- from her two committee assignments, both the budget committee and the education and labor committees. Also happening today, Republican conference is meeting as a whole. That meeting was originally scheduled to discuss representative Liz Cheney one of few Republicans who voted for former President Trump's second impeachment and one of the top leaders in the Republican leaders in the Republican party. I would expect Greene and Cheney to come up in the Republican conference meeting today. Opinions vary on capitol hill. Some Republicans in congress saying they are withholding judgment until they can talk to her. Others says it really up to the voters of Georgia to decide what they want to do. " I want to hear from her before I -- before I judge what to do about her, I want to know what the facts are. If they are non-accurate if they are non-accurate postings." Said Graham "If they have been manipulated. If they are still accurate. Do you still hold this beliefs ""We are a free country. We are allowed to say what we want to say." Said Donalds "You also have to bear the consequences for what you say. If her district decides not to send her back to Washington, so be it." Now party leadership as one who makes the the committee assignments ultimate for them to put her up on the committees. The house controls consequences for committee assignments by parties and reprimands or expelling a member, all that is done in the house. They control their own chamber, Alex, a wait-and-see game to see what happens and what people are saying. 

"We will pass a reconciliation bill if we need it," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.Reconciliation is the latest "it" word on Capitol Hill. That's because it may be the best shot Democrats have at passing President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief plan."We're keeping all options open on the table, including using budget reconciliation," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.Reconciliation is a special procedure that allows bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority, and it was designed to be used for the annual budget. "Congress begins with a budget reconciliation bill that sets out kind of the spending targets. It's a chance to take what are their spending priorities, and then say, 'What needs to change in current law to kind of fit within that framework?'" said Laurel Harbridge-Yong, an associate professor of political science and faculty fellow at Northwestern University. It's a way to bypass the 60 votes need to overcome a filibuster. "Over time, obviously, strategic politicians recognized that this was a great way to avoid the supermajority requirement," said Harbridge-Yong.The reconciliation process was used most recently to pass the Trump administration's 2017 tax cuts. It was also used to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2010 under President Obama."It is not designed necessarily do any of these things. It's supposed to be part of passing a budget for the country in normal order. However, the rules can be shoehorned to pass these types of big one time bills," said Adam Michel, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation.There are restrictions on what can be passed using this procedure. Reconciliation bills can only change policies that affect government spending or government revenue, and they must be deficit neutral over 10 years. "We saw this in the 2017 tax bill. Republicans had to make big pieces of it temporary in order to get around that rule that says you can't be making big changes to the deficit outside of the budget window," said Michel.Looking at President Biden's COVID-19 relief proposal, many elements do fit the definition of government spending direct payments to Americans, buying and distributing vaccines, and paying for contact tracers, for example. But some Republicans in Congress say using the filibuster-proof reconciliation process does not encourage bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. "But it certainly suggests that the Democrats would not have to move legislation as close to the preferences of the legislators in the Republican party as they would if they were passing legislation in a world where the filibuster was an option," says Harbridge-Yong. 

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