06/19/11 — Wayne commissioners to revisit budget, taxes and cuts

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Wayne commissioners to revisit budget, taxes and cuts

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 19, 2011 1:50 AM

A county budget leaner by $1,492,005 and minus a proposed 2.35-cent increase in the tax rate will be the subject of a Tuesday morning public hearing before the Wayne County commissioners.

The hearing on the $158 million budget will get under way Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

Most of the cuts needed to avoid the tax increase were hammered out by commissioners during a more-than-five-hour budget workshop on Monday. The remaining were added by County Manager Lee Smith.

The amounts proposed to be trimmed from the budget are:

* $500,000 transfer to capital reserve

* $250,000 in lapsed salaries by freezing 8 to 10 full-time jobs

* $200,000 contingency Economic Development

* $162,551 building and grounds for roof repairs.

* $100,000 contingency WATCH

* $50,000 tax department software

* $25,000 summer school reserve

* $4,454 board of commissioners advertising

The board did agree to one budget addition -- $25,000 for the WORKS program at Wayne Community College.

The budget reduces the solid waste user fee from $60 to $45 and does not provide for any across-the-board salary increases and maintains the county's hiring freeze.

Because of the countywide property revaluation, the state required county officials to advertise a revenue-neutral tax rate -- a rate that is estimated to produce revenue for the next fiscal year equal to the revenue for the current fiscal year if no reappraisal had occurred.

Using the state formula, the revenue-neutral tax rate for Wayne County would be 70.25 cents per $100 of property value.

However, in his budget message presented earlier this month to commissioners, Smith recommended that the current property tax rate be reduced from 76.4 cents to 72.6 cents which in effect is an increase of 2.35 cents.

Smith originally said the approximately $1.3 million that would be generated by the proposed increase would be taken up by reduced state funding for the Department of Social Services and Health Department and a state-mandated increase to the state retirement plan.

Smith told commissioners at Monday's workshop that he already had been working toward the cuts because he had been contacted by several commissioners prior to the meeting concerning the tax increase.

Also, rather than look specifically at rates, Smith said he had looked at an actual dollar amount of about $1.4 million in cuts that would be needed to make the budget revenue neutral.