SIOUX CITY | The projected health insurance costs for Woodbury County employees are dropping from a 5 percent increase to no increase at all, according to information shared during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors budget session.

That move will pare an estimated $189,000 in previously projected costs out of the proposed FY 2019 budget. It also pushes the county board members closer to their goal of setting a budget with a lower property tax rate for a fourth straight year.

"We are progressing... After today's action, we will be very close," County Finance Director Dennis Butler said.

Human Resources Department Director Melissa Thomas said the health insurance costs paid by the county in the year ahead do not need to rise since the county's self-funded insurance sits at $2.86 million. Thomas said large payouts for county employee health conditions have been limited this fiscal year, so the fund is comparably plump.

"Our funds are sufficient enough to not warrant an increase at this time," Thomas said.

The FY 2019 budget is being worked down from a proposal that stood at about $58 million when budget talks began in December.

The levies in the current $53 million budget, which runs through June 30, are $7.41 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for city residents and $10.38 for rural residents.

In a recap of where tax levies stood through Jan. 30 deliberations, Butler on Tuesday shared the rates were $7.50 for city residents and $9.77 for rural residents.

The county property tax rate has dropped three years in a row, up through the current year that runs through June 30, 2018. Prior to the financial plan that passed in March 2015, the county had not passed a budget with a lower property tax rate for at least 15 years.

The supervisors will work to finalize the budget during two more Tuesday board meetings through Feb. 20. A public hearing and final vote will take place in March.

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County and education reporter

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