WATERLOO — Seneca County Manager Mitchell Rowe presented his first tentative county budget Tuesday, showing a slight tax decrease over 2012.

Spending is up $1.4 million, from $61.2 million to $62.6 million. But Rowe said he was able to use $4.7 million from the tax reserve fund and a projected increase of about $500,000 in sales tax revenue to keep the tax levy the same as this year, $9.4 million.

He said all current county services and programs will remain intact in his budget plan, except for the official elimination of the county engineer’s position and department following the resignation of Jason McCormick earlier this year.

“While overall net county spending is contemplated to increase by 4.9 percent, the Board of Supervisors tax reserve fund and policy continue to protect taxpayers from increases in the property tax levy,” Rowe said. “The policy aims to maintain important services that residents and business owners have come to expect, without further burdening their ability to pay.”

The first of several possible budget workshops was scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, in the County Office Building. A public hearing also will be scheduled. The board must adopt a budget no later than Dec. 20.

One item that may be discussed at the budget workshop is the proposed 2013 Capital Improvement Plan.

A motion was on the agenda to put money in four funding sources to pay for the first year of capital improvements in a five-year plan.

That would have included $1.1 million in borrowing for the county courthouse project, $320,000 from the capital reserve fund, $75,000 from the 911 reserve fund and $320,000 in the regular  budget’s operating funds.

But the board voted to table that motion and send it back to the Finance, Assessment & Insurance Committee. The board later voted to refer the five-year plan back to the Public Works Committee.

In another finance-related matter, the board voted 13-0 to authorize the refinancing of $13 million in bonds issued in 2005. That initial bond was for $20 million.

The refinancing, at a lower interest rate, would save some $500,000 and be for 10 years.

The other action, the board:

COURTHOUSE: Viewed architect’s renditions of two possible exterior designs for the $4 million Waterloo courthouse renovation project. One choice is traditional, which would blend the brick design from the historic courthouse into the entire addition; the other is modern design, which incorporates four different types of facade materials.

Discussion will continue and the board will eventually give the architect direction on which of the two themes to pursue in a final design.

The board agreed to authorize the payment of an additional $175,264, plus up to $12,500 in reimbursement expenses, to Popli Design Group for its work on the courthouse design.

ROOFS: Approved awarding a bid contract to Joseph L. Peterson of Waterloo for $52,500 to replace the roof on the county Health Building on Thurber Drive.

The board also approved a contract to replace the deteriorating roof on the “Papa Bear” courthouse roof in Ovid. The work will be done by Carvalho Construction Inc. of Lodi for $47,197.87.

APPOINTMENTS: Approved the appointment of Wilford “Bill” Bordeau as Planning and Community Development director, effective immediately, at an annual salary of $65,347. He had been serving as interim director in the position formerly held by Rowe before he became county manager.

The board also approved the appointment of Martha Bond to fill a vacancy on the county Board of Health, a six-year term.

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