City, county budgets designate what increased tax revenue can pay for

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 3, 2000

From employee raises to payments on debt services, city and county leaders have big plans for the tax increases they’ve proposed. While the increases aren’t set in stone — and some members of the boards may not have made up their minds whether to vote for them — the preliminary budgets offer a peek at what the tax revenue could support.

In the county, supervisors have budgeted an 8 to 10 percent raise for county employees, who just missed an opportunity for a raise last year when another tax increase was cut.

Supervisors also plan to use ad valorem tax revenue — which makes up 53 percent of the county budget — for, among other things, the juvenile justice center and for county roads.

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The city budget, meanwhile, is supported mainly by sales tax revenue — which the county does not receive.

The city’s preliminary budget commits ad valorem millage to economic development, the library and servicing the city’s bond debt — specifically those issued to pay for the convention center complex under construction.

If the city passes the projected 22 percent ad valorem tax increase, it will be the first tax increase in the city in 15 years.

&uot;What I want people to know is your city has done pretty well,&uot; said Ward 3 Alderwoman Sue Stedman.

The city raised taxes in 1985 from 25.435 mills to 33.033 mills to compensate for a state ordinance that changed the way residential property is assessed, Stedman said.

Until then, residences were assessed at 15 percent of their actual value. They are now assessed at 10 percent.

Even with the drop in assessment rate and exemptions for homeowners 65 and older, the overall amount brought in by the city in property taxes has steadily risen over the years, Stedman said.

The increase can be attributed to growth in commercial development, where the city gets a large portion of property tax revenues, Stedman said.

In the county, supervisors attribute this year’s proposed tax increase to the rising costs of doing business.

&uot;We held it down as low as was possible,&uot; Campbell said. &uot;We scaled everybody back to just what they needed to operate.&uot;

For example, supervisors cut an request from the Adams County Sheriff’s Department for six new vehicles this year to two, Campbell said.

And before making more budget cuts last week, the supervisors were facing a proposed tax increase of more than 4 mills — roughly $40 more for a $100,000 house.

Supervisors Lynwood Easterling and Sammy Cauthen also said the tax increase is needed to fund road repairs and employee pay-raises.

&uot;It’s self evident that the main millage increase was the (raise) for the county employees,&uot; Cauthen said.

The county must also make a payment on financed road equipment this year.

&uot;We did not cut the road budget because the county needs upgrades on some of these roads,&uot; Easterling said.

Supervisor Darryl Grennell also said the tax increase is needed to fund such as items as the pay increase and increases in the cost of services — such as gasoline prices.

And Grennell said he understands the need to fund such things as the port and the airport.

&uot;We’ve got to prepare for the future,&uot; Grennell said. &uot;If Adams County is going to grow economically, we’ve got to have those economic tools up and ready for those opportunities to come in.&uot;