I am sure that many of you saw this story in the Robertson County Times (RCT) this past week.
This is sobering.
Robertson County taxpayers could be looking at $9,278,000, or a 74-cent increase in property taxes to balance the 2011/2012 county budget. This reality was absorbed by the county budget committee at its meeting last week as members met to begin considering a workable budget for the coming fiscal year.
Their task must take into consideration the debt service needs of schools, highways and the general fund, which total more than $17 million altogether.
Broken down, county schools have the highest proportion of debt, with $12.1 million required to pay for recent school construction. The recently completed county jail’s cost is reflected in the $4.1 million general fund debt, and county highways require servicing a debt of $807,100.
In all, committee members have little option but to require the revenue increase from taxpayers, or find ways, with the help of county department heads, to pare back on operational and equipment expenses in order to alleviate the 74-cent sticker-shock.
This is the portion that I would like to highlight. Many times you here those close to county government articulate this in “government-speak” what the number of “pennies” actually means. Of course, it is an easy way to speak of the issue from commissioner-to-commissioner; yet, many folks do not know what the bottom line means for them. This story breaks that down for those outside of government.
According to Robertson County Finance Director Jody Stewart, that 74 cents translates into an approximate $185 tax increase for an average $100,000 home, or a 28 percent increase. The current tax for Robertson County rate is $2.61 per $100 of assessed value. If increased by 74 cents, the Robertson County taxpayers would be paying $3.35 per $100.
In the coming weeks, I hope to illustrate to you a county-by-county analysis of property tax rates to dispel some rumors.
Committee members will convene again this week, as they will for the next several months, as they grapple with the combined realities of climbing expenses versus revenue in their task of crafting a workable budget to present to the full commission.