Franklin County residents and business owners will pay 5 percent more on their real property taxes after Fiscal Court voted 6-1 to take the state-recommended compensating tax rate of 0.165.
“The compensating rate is what I would recommend the court take, not only to meet our budget, but to take the state’s recommendation as our local tax authority,” County Treasurer Susan Laurenson said before the vote at Friday’s Fiscal Court meeting.
Each year, the state Department for Local Government recommends to counties a compensating tax rate, which is designed to produce the same amount of revenue as last year’s rate in addition to revenue from new property. This year, the state recommended a rate of 0.165, or $1.65 for every $1,000 of property.
That means for a $100,00 home, a property owner would pay $165 in taxes. That’s up from last year’s rate of $1.57, or $157 in taxes for a $100,000 home.
Magistrate Larry Perkins voted against the higher tax rate.
“We’ve got a few choices: One is to cut services, one is to increase taxes and one is to create new revenue,” Perkins said at the meeting. “We really need to work toward increasing these revenues … I think we need to look at other alternatives.”
Perkins suggested the court invest more energy into improving the local workforce and bringing more jobs to Franklin County, which he said would create more revenue from occupational taxes.
Laurenson said after the meeting that the compensating rate, although designed to keep revenues flat, is estimated to still bring in about $170,000 in additional revenue. That’ll come from new property, increases in the rate on existing assessments and instances where assessments on properties do happen to go up, like after a sale, she said.
But generally, assessments on properties are down. The compensating rate increases as property values decrease. According to values calculated by the Property Valuation Administrator, Franklin County property assessment valuations from 2011 to 2012 decreased by more than $4.6 million.
For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the court budgeted $4.27 million for property tax revenue. If the court had kept the rate at 0.157, it would have missed that mark by $184,000, Laurenson said. With the compensating rate of 0.165, Laurenson estimates the court will meet and exceed the budget by about $23,000.
Since 2009, the court has taken less than the compensating rate, an action Laurenson called “unheard of.”
“We’ve left money on the table for the last three years that we could have had for general revenues if we would have taken the compensating rate each year,” Laurenson told The State Journal after the meeting.
“The county remains very conservative, and by taking the compensating rate, that’s not being frivolous.”
The rate applies to the 2012-2013 fiscal year property taxes, which are collected by the sheriff’s office at the end of this year.
In other action Friday:
>The court signed a resolution with the state Transportation Cabinet Department of Highways to receive $230,000 in state contingency funds to resurface county roads. The resolution was a last-minute addition to the agenda, said Judge-Executive Ted Collins, after he was notified earlier this week that the court would receive the funds.
Collins said the money was unexpected and the court hasn’t made a decision about which roads will be resurfaced. He said after the meeting that $230,000 can provide enough funding to resurface about 4.5 miles.
>The court approved a proposal from Solid Waste Administrator Greg Butler to install a solar array at the Lakeview Park Golf Shop. The array, which includes five solar panels and a monitoring system, costs about $7,000 and will be paid with funds from the Energy & Efficiency Community Block Grant awarded to the county from the state Department of Energy a few years ago.
>The court approved emergency lights for sixth district Constable Richard Sandifer’s vehicle.