County budget approved with no tax increase

By Kitsey Burns Harrison -

The county tax rate remains unchanged following approval of the 2017-18 fiscal year budget for Yadkin County. The rate will stay at 66 cents per $100 valuation. A public hearing took place regarding the proposed budget on June 20. County Manager Lisa Hughes gave a detailed presentation on the budget.

The adopted budget for 2016-17 was $36,806,270. The recommended budget for 2017-18 was $36,473,150, a decrease of $333,120.

Hughes gave a brief explanation of the term revenue neutral and how the decision was made to leave the property tax rate the same for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

“Every year when there’s a revaluation that occurs, you have to calculate what revenue neutral is,” Hughes explained. “Part of that process looks at the audited property values since the last revaluation. We had to look at the last eight years of property values. It looks at the growth since the last revaluation, the collection rate each year since that revaluation. The revenue neutral tax rate that was prepared by the Phyllis Adams, the tax administration, and me was 67.7 cents per $100 value, but I’m recommending leaving the tax rate the same.

“Part of the reason for that, with this board of commissioners, they have been very dedicated to property tax reform,” Hughes continued. “Where there are opportunities to return money back to our citizens, we like to try to do that. During the year you have natural growth, there’s all kinds of things that add revenue to that estimated number. We looked at all those numbers, sales tax increases that will continue into next year, and thought it was only right to leave the tax rate the same. In essence, for most of our property owners, it will be a lower tax bill for them as to what it would be at the revenue neutral rate.”

A $46,000 addition was requested for the education budget to cover a 3.3-percent salary increase mandated by the state budget.

Most of the county’s fire department tax rates will remain the same, with the exception of a .05-cent increase for Boonville and East Bend and a .05-cent decrease for West Yadkin.

Hughes reported that the county fire departments often request tax-rate increases in order to cover costs for new turnout gear, the safety suits worn by firefighters. She suggested implementing a plan in which the county would assist the fire departments each year with funds to replace turnout gear, including boots, pants, jacket, gloves and helmet for all registered members, excluding retirees and cadets. The new budget line item would allow for replacement of 10 percent of each fire department personnel’s turnout gear annually with the county reimbursing the departments for 80 percent of the costs of the gear, up to $2,800 per set.

Three speakers did come forward at the hearing. Two employees from the Yadkin County Medical Clinic spoke briefly, requesting that a part-time lab tech position be moved to full-time.

Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin also addressed the board, thanking them for working with the school system to provide funding for Yadkin County Schools.

With the additions to the education budget and fire department turnout gear increase, the total recommended budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year came to $36,642,612. The board voted unanimously to approve the budget.

Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.

By Kitsey Burns Harrison

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