County budget approved with tax increase

By CHARLES PEARL State Journal Staff Writer Published:

A $17.9 million budget for the next fiscal year was approved by Franklin Fiscal Court Thursday, although the vote wasn't unanimous.

Magistrate Ira Fannin said he voted no because he's typically a "no-tax person and this budget relies on a (4 percent property) tax increase. We have another proposal for a tax tonight, and I think one will be all I can vote for."

The other tax, a new one, was unanimously approved and is levied at .0075 cents per $100 valuation on all real property. It's expected to generate $143,000 for the Franklin County Soil Conservation District.

Fiscal Court had an option of providing $75,000 to the conservation district out of the General Fund, or approving the tax.

When a draft budget was presented in late April, Judge-Executive Teresa Barton said Fiscal Court has historically funded the conservation district "at a very minimal amount. They serve a vital role, primarily in protecting our environmental resources and providing assistance to our farming community."

According to a draft agreement, in return for supporting the tax, Fiscal Court will get office space in the conservation district building, use of a vehicle, and a part-time employee to assist the county solid waste coordinator in environmental education projects. The district will have two metal recycling events during the year; pay the costs for dead animal removal throughout the county; and pay $40,000 annually to retire the USDA building debt.

In the new fiscal year budget, which begins July 1, most county employees will receive a 3.5 percent salary increase. Each year, one department gets an equity adjustment and jail employees will get a 4 percent salary increase this year.

Barton said the new budget is "very conservative, very tight. It's pretty much a continuation budget."

For more on this story, see the latest State Journal.

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