Budget Committee Proposes $1.62 Property Tax Rate, an Increase of 10 Cents

July 15, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page

Your property taxes will be going up this fall if the county commission adopts a recommendation by the budget committee.

In their final meeting before passage of the new spending plan for the county, members of the budget committee met Thursday night at the courthouse and voted to recommend a tax rate of $1.62 cents per $100 of assessed value. That's a ten cent increase above the state established certified tax rate of $1.52.

A nickel of that ten cent increase will go to schools and the other nickel will help fund the county general budget. The five cent increase budgeted for schools is less than the amount requested by the board of education.

Here's how the proposed tax rate breaks down:

County General: 83 cents
General Purpose Schools: 55 cents
Debt Service: 12 cents
Highways/Public Works: 3 cents
General Capital Projects: 9 cents
Total Tax Levy: $1.62

Meanwhile, the solid waste department is to be funded by the following monies:
Gross Receipt Tax funds deposited into the General Fund: proceeds from the state beer tax, wholesale beer tax, bank excise tax, state revenue sharing-TVA funds, interest earned on county investments (excluding interest from the central cafeteria, trust funds, or bond proceeds); hotel/motel tax funds; the county's portion of the local option sales tax; proceeds from payments in-lieu of taxes; and the alcoholic beverage tax.

Prior to the committee taking action on the budgets and tax rate, County Mayor Mike Foster made the following prepared statement:

"With much discussion, the budget committee found it necessary and advisable to call for an increase in the property tax levy. The Tax Levy Resolution in the consolidated budget document increases the property tax levy to $1.62 per one hundred and reflects a .0986 cent increase from the equalized rate of $1.5214 and was only considered after making projections and considering long term financial stability. The driving force behind the increase was anticipated future requirements of meeting the schools "maintenance of effort" as well as meeting the local matching portion for the States BEP funding formula, with the General Fund levy increasing due to the notations listed below," said Foster

"Of particular note, the consolidated 2012 budget document changes the school board approved General Purpose School Fund budget only by lowering the amount of local revenues requested by the school board which was far above what the budget committee deemed necessary. Although the budget committee submits a tax rate resolution as noted above which increases the levy for the General Purpose School Fund by five cents on an equalized basis or seven cents when compared to the prior year, the budget committee believes that expenditures in the General Purpose School Fund budget which has been approved by the school board cannot be sustained on a long-term basis unless the DeKalb County Board of Education takes immediate steps to correct deficiencies. The budget committee made no effort in trying to identify expenditure cuts which should be a responsibility of the school board and believe that non-recurring revenues are being used for recurring expenses," said Foster.

"As noted above, the consolidated budget document also increases the levy for the County General Fund by five cents. A pay scale system was presented by the DeKalb County Sheriff and implemented into the budget in order to maintain qualified personnel in law enforcement, with longevity pay for the Sheriff's Department being cut out. Pay raises for county employees are budgeted at $1,000 per year with spending cuts being made by officeholders in order to offset some of the additional expense. Increases in utilities, workers comp, and liability insurance are included, with particular emphasis on utilities which is a best estimate due to the anticipated occupation of the new county administrative building. Although the budget projects a decline in cash fund balance for the General Fund, the budget committee does not believe the decline will be as steep as presented. The largest outlays are unknowns such as ambulance service revenues and expenditures, as well as declines in revenues due to the recession but the budget committee is confident that actions taken in prior budget years have been successful and will carry the county through the current economic downtown and projects fund stability within two budget cycles," said Foster.

Foster added that "the budget committee recommends approval of the consolidated budget and rejection of the school board approved General Purpose School Fund," he said.

All members of the budget committee voted in favor of the above recommendations on budgets and tax rate including Wayne Cantrell, Jack Barton, Jerry Scott, John Green, and Marshall Ferrell, who declared his conflict by being a school system employee, but yet voted saying that he was "voting his conscience"

The budget committee will now forward the proposed new tax rate and spending plans for all county departments to the county commission for final approval during a special meeting on Monday, August 8th at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse. The budgets will be published as a legal notice in the newspaper next week as required by law.

The official public notice of the meeting is as follows:

The DeKalb County Commission will meet in special session on Monday, August 8 at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse in order to consider the following agenda:

Call to order

Invocation

Appropriation Resolution

Consideration of Consolidated Budget Document and Discussion of Approved School Board Budget

Resolution to Levy a Tax Rate in excess of the Certified Rate

Tax Levy Resolution

Non- Profit Resolution

Budget statements of the individual funds

Adjourn

This notice serves as the official intent of DeKalb County to exceed the certified tax rate.

There will also be a Public Hearing as required by law which will be held at 5:00 p.m. prior to the County Commission meeting. The public may review the proposed Fiscal Year 2011-12 Budget document during the Public Hearing.

The public is invited to attend this meeting as well as all meetings of the Board of County Commissioners

WJLE will have more details on the budgets in later news stories on the radio and at www.wjle.com.

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