Monday, March 23, 2009
THE GUARDIAN has learned our County Commishes have painted themselves into a corner with respect to the current and fiscal 2010 budget years. Property assessed valuations have decreased from $9.8 Billion downward to $8.8 Billion this year. Commissioners do not want to raise the levy rate to keep the tax dollars static and also take a 3% increase in budget allowed by state law. How this will happen is a mystery at this point.
Property values and levy rates are two components multiplied together to arrive at the total property tax dollars we all get to pay for all the various taxing entities like the county, cities, highway districts and schools.
Our Commishes cleaned out and spent all the rainy day reserve accounts to pay for the Work Release Center, Crime Lab/Coroner building, Job Service building, new jail site and engineering costs for the jail and a bunch of other bells and whistles. All reserves held for tough economic times are long GONE! Cash reserves are not there generating extra cash via interest bearing demand deposits.
Two choice remain at this juncture. They can cut all departmental budgets or they can increase the levy rate and take the 3% increase in taxes. A levy rate increase of about 14% (11% decreased assessed valuation and 3% increase allowed by law) will be needed to keep the county at current budget levels. The other option is to make drastic cuts.
Right now Commishes are not making any decisions hoping against hope the economy will turn around and they can skip down the yellow brick road. Spendthrift actions have now come home to roost.
Spending for county real estate and buildings got completly out of control in the past four years. The cardinal rule of keeping one eye on the future and one eye on the bottom line was violated by our elected officials.
What will they do? Stay tuned for more....
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 6:49 PM