05/21/08 — County: No new taxes this year

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County: No new taxes this year

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 21, 2008 2:36 PM

Wayne County's commissioners and county Manager Lee Smith say they have no plans to consider an increase in the tax rate for next year.

Commissioners should be getting their first look at a draft budget proposal by the end of the week -- a budget that is expected to look very much like the county's current one, with the same tax rate of 76.4 cents per $100 worth of property.

"I have asked all departments to live within the confines of last year's budget," Smith told the commissioners at their Tuesday meeting. "It is similar to two years ago when we went in and made cuts."

"I heard the budget is so tight that after we approve it, we will be relieved, too," Commissioner John Bell said.

Smith said his draft budget would be close to the current gross budget of $170 million.

"You may see some change with other revenue attached or a grant attached, but it will not be a lot different," Smith said of the budget.

Personnel continues to be a major issue and there will be a freeze on positions, he said.

The budget already has taken an almost $3 million hit in revenue -- about 5.5 to 6 cents on the tax rate. Both hits are courtesy of the state.

In prior years the state funded 100 percent of the foster child program, a cost it is now passing to the county.

Smith said the program will cost about $450,000 which amounts to about a penny on the tax rate.

Also, as part of the state's Medicaid changes, the county stands to lose between $2 million and $2.2 million in sales tax revenues.

Compounding the shortfall is an anticipated revenue growth rate of one percent or less.

The board scheduled a hearing on the budget at its Tuesday, June 17, session.

By state law, the budget must be approved by June 30 or the commissioners must approve a temporary budget.