Though revenues are dropping, Madison County commissioners kept tax rates steady in 2009.
However, county homeowners can expect an approximate $240 tax hike on their upcoming tax bill, which is expected to go out next month, thanks to the state government’s decision to discontinue the Homeowners’ Tax Relief Grant.
County commissioners met briefly recently to approve their tax rates. They emphasized that the tax increase property owners will see on their bills is due to the state government, not local government.
“I’d like every citizen to know that we had no control over it (the ending of the tax relief grant),” said Commissioner John Pethel.
After weeks hacking away at the county budget, commissioners spoke happily about avoiding a millage rate increase. They praised county employees, department heads and finance staff.
“The employees and the department heads have worked hard on their budgets,” said Commissioner Stanley Thomas. “They understand the financial crisis we’re in and they have worked with us.”
Commissioner Bruce Scogin also praised the employees.
“In essence, when they’ve cut their budgets, they’ve said we’re willing to work with less and try to do more,” said Scogin. “… We’re a lot better off (financially) than some counties. It’s because of the people we’ve been blessed to work with.”
Commission chairman Anthony Dove noted that the BOC managed to beat the school board to the punch in getting its tax rates set. The BOE has set its rate well before the BOC in recent years. The school board set its rate an hour after the commissioners recently.
“I can’t remember the last time that happened,” he said.
Though the 2010 budget has not been finalized, it’s expected to drop roughly $900,000 from this year’s budget, from roughly $14.2 million to $13.3 million. Dove noted that the BOC has reduced its budget approximately $1.7 million over the past two years, from a high of approximately $15 million two years ago.
“It’s been a tough road,” said Dove. “… We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re in pretty good shape at this point to make it through one more year.”
Dove urged citizens to spend their dollars in Madison County.
“Anything in the county you can purchase helps us out,” he said.
The board unanimously approved the tax rate for unincorporated (not in city) areas of the county at 11.216 mills, down from 11.158 last year. The incorporated (in city) rate remained steady at 12.156 mills. The county government will bring in $104,598 less in property tax revenue, a 1.36 percent reduction, this year compared to 2008.