ST. CLOUD -- Stearns County plans to spend about $3,500,000 more next year in their 2018 budget. But, the good news is the 4.7% increase in the tax levy is expected to be offset by the same amount of growth in the county's tax base. It means if your home valuation doesn't go up in 2018, the county portion of your property taxes will stay the same.

County Administrator Mike Williams says the increased spending will be to address staffing shortages and technology...

I would call this budget an investment kind of in three areas.  We have added a couple of people in information technology and added to capital expenditures in technology.  We've added a number of positions in the sheriff's office as a result of the recommendations in a staffing study and a couple of positions in the county attorney's office from that staffing study.

Other positions are being added in human services in the areas of child protection, mental health, probation and public health. Williams says changes to the funding formulas will cover most of the increased costs for those positions.

Williams also says they are getting some increases in other funding formulas too...

We did have an increase in our County Program Aid which like a city's LGA, so that's directly from the state.  And, then with a number of these wind generating fields and solar fields, we're also anticipating a pretty nice increase in energy production taxes that come back to the county.

The total budget for next year will be just over $135,000,000.

The Truth in Taxation meeting will be held November 28th. From that point, the county tax levy can't be increased, but could only be lowered ahead of the budget adoption meeting December 19th.