County may hike taxes even more

Posted

Person County’s Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday morning on adjustments to the proposed budget at their second work session.

In a 3-2 vote, commissioners approved a plan offered by vice chairman Ray Jeffers, spurning a competing proposal from commissioner Kyle Puryear.

Jeffers’ proposal calls for adding a penny to the proposed 2-cent property tax rate, bringing it to three cents.

At the session, Jeffers proposed fudning the budget proposed by county manager Heidi York, but he also suggested adding funds to a handful of projects.

Jeffers’ proposal called for adding an additional $250,000 to the Economic Development Commission’s operating budget, $25,000 for a YMCA study and implementing a salary study over a two-year period at a cost of $363,471.50.

Jeffers also wants to cut funding for the Woodsdale Volunteer Fire Department by $30,000 and lower fees from $300 to $100 to help county farmers pay for agricultural well permits.

Since there have been discussions about possible cuts to the Person County Health Department, he proposed that the county does a study of services offered by the health department.

While this study is underway, he proposed eliminating a Public Health Nurse Director I position and freezing the department’s vacant positions to get answers to the commissioners’ questions.

According to York, no money is attached to the health department study.

Before voting on Jeffers’ proposal, some commissioners raised questions about why the Y board could not fund the study themselves and whether the community could financially support a YMCA.

Jeffers explained that if the county funds the study, everyone will know whether there is community support for the Y, and if there is not sufficient support, he would be willing to drop the idea.

Puryear and commissioner Gordon Powell voted against Jeffers’ proposal.

Puryear’s proposal looked at how the board could fund $896,000 for education by keeping the property tax rate flat.

He called for a 1 percent reduction across the board for all county departments, saving a total of $382,151 in the proposed budget.

Puryear also recommended having the health department fund $400,000 out of the department’s own funds, instead of the county spending $400,000 out of its own money. That would mean a county appropriation of $782,151. Puryear also sought to hold off on the salary study this year, believing that it was highly probable that a new revenue stream could come next year from a non-tax base source. His plan would also retain the current cell phone policy. The county would also have to hold off on implementing a countywide land use plan. To make up for lost revenue, Puryear recommended raising the fire tax by one penny.

All told, Puryear’s plan would save the county $1,020,741.

Not mentioned in his proposed budget was funding for economic development, a water and sewer fund and schools, but said he was “willing to look at using a fund balance distribution” for economic development and the schools will remain “fully funded as proposed by the county manager.”

Commissioners are slated to vote on the final budget Monday, June 17 at 9 a.m.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment