Scott County residents will likely see a county tax levy hike of up to 3.5 percent in 2016.

The increase, the largest in five years, would fund road maintenance, parks and new employees, County Administrator Gary Shelton said.

A 3.5 percent increase would bring the county's total levy to nearly $60.9 million. For the owner of a home with the county's average value of $245,000, that would mean an additional $52 in county property taxes in 2016, assuming the property's value has risen.

The County Board unanimously approved the preliminary levy at its Sept. 15 meeting.

In Minnesota, cities and counties are required to set a preliminary property tax levy by Sept. 30. After that, the amount can be lowered before the final budget is approved, but it can't be raised.

More than 80 percent of homes in Scott County rose in value last year, Shelton said, noting that change will influence individual homeowners' tax bills. Even if the levy remains flat, Shelton said, the owners of the average home would see their county property tax rise by $14.

The biggest drivers behind the levy increase are $2.4 million in road maintenance projects and a potential increase to the parks budget. County officials are also requesting seven new employees in 2016: one each for the Sheriff's and County Attorney's offices, and five in human services, Shelton said.

Commissioner Joe Wagner said he would like the levy to be lower, but said it's been "unrealistically low" in recent years. He added that the county has to play catch up if it is going to provide the level of services residents want.

"I think it's something a person can live with," he said.

The board is scheduled to vote Dec. 15 on the final 2016 levy and budget.