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Pulaski County to dip into reserves to cover budget

For the first time in years, Pulaski County will have to dip into its reserve funds to meet 2009-10 fiscal year budget requirements.
To help reduce the impact on reserves, the county Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to set a 50-cent (per $100 of assessed value) real estate tax rate. They also considered a 48-cent rate, but agreed with County Administrator Peter Huber that dropping the rate that low would be “digging a hole” for the county.
The estimated equalized rate is 46.8 cents, according to County Administrator Peter Huber. The equalized rate is the rate that would bring in the same amount of revenue as was realized under old property assessments.
Huber said that while the 50-cent rate isn’t maintainable long-term, it will delay the need for future increases and will reduce the impact on the reserve fund by $145,000.
According to Huber, a 50-cent rate will increase the average homeowner’s annual tax payment about $33.
Huber said a 48-cent rate would end up costing county taxpayers more in the long run. It would eliminate the county’s ability to replace any equipment and would prevent the county from offering services that are beneficial to those who have lost their jobs.
“Fifty cents will allow us to offer some assistance to our citizens,” he said. He noted that the two-cent difference will allow the county to:
• Expand Pulaski Area Transit’s service to Dublin and Fairlawn;
• Increase funding of Free Clinic services by $2,000;
• Increase funding to the Crossroads Homeless shelter by $1,500;
• Improve the energy efficiency of county buildings and the courthouse to reduce energy bills; and
• Increase funding for development of small businesses by $15,000.
Although the county is in “relatively good financial health,” Huber said it is not in as good condition as it has been in the past.
Conservative spending practices and estimating revenue on the low side in past years allows the county to have $2.3 million more revenue than expenditures, he said. But when the economic downturn is figured into the equation the county’s economic picture isn’t as good as it sounds.
For example, he outlined just under $2 million in expected impacts on the $2.3 million surplus. Some of those impacts include automobile and personal property devaluations of about $462,000; declines in machinery and tools, consumer utility and the 1-percent local tax totaling more than half a million dollars; a decline in motor vehicle fees (almost $81,000); and a “major loss” in interest earnings (more than $850,000) due to changes in interest rates and the fact the funds for Riverlawn Elementary School had been collecting interest.
Supervisors Chairman Joe Sheffey said this is the most difficult budget he has encountered since he joined the board. He noted it also is the first time he has seen the county have to dip into reserves to develop a budget.
Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt made the motion to approve the 50-cent rate. It was seconded by Massie District Supervisor Frank Conner.
“When we first started working on this, I really thought we would be able to go with the 48-cent rate,” Pratt said. “But when I see what we’re going to have to cut and then end up paying down the road, I make a motion we set (the rate at 50 cents.
Ingles District Supervisor Ranny Akers said the 48-cent rate would be “taking a step back. It’ll end up costing the taxpayers a whole lot more if we take a step backwards.”
Akers said it would be an “injustice” to the taxpayers to go with the 48-cent rate.
“We don’t have enough fingers to plug the hole in the dyke now,” he said.
Just as the board started voting on the rate, a citizen stood to object to any vote being taken. He questioned how the board could set the rate when citizens haven’t seen a budget and the Board of Equalization hasn’t ruled on all of the appeals yet.
Sheffey pointed out the public hearing on the rate was held last month and that citizens will have an opportunity to comment on the budget at a future budget public hearing.
When a second citizen stood to complain that the board of supervisors doesn’t do anything for the Snowville section of the county, Sheffey banged his gavel and told the man to sit down.
Huber said he estimated the total value of reductions to be made to property assessments at around $40 million.

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Pulaski County to dip into reserves to cover budget

For the first time in years, Pulaski County will have to dip into its reserve funds to meet 2009-10 fiscal year budget requirements.
To help reduce the impact on reserves, the county Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to set a 50-cent (per $100 of assessed value) real estate tax rate. They also considered a 48-cent rate, but agreed with County Administrator Peter Huber that dropping the rate that low would be “digging a hole” for the county.
The estimated equalized rate is 46.8 cents, according to County Administrator Peter Huber. The equalized rate is the rate that would bring in the same amount of revenue as was realized under old property assessments.
Huber said that while the 50-cent rate isn’t maintainable long-term, it will delay the need for future increases and will reduce the impact on the reserve fund by $145,000.
According to Huber, a 50-cent rate will increase the average homeowner’s annual tax payment about $33.
Huber said a 48-cent rate would end up costing county taxpayers more in the long run. It would eliminate the county’s ability to replace any equipment and would prevent the county from offering services that are beneficial to those who have lost their jobs.
“Fifty cents will allow us to offer some assistance to our citizens,” he said. He noted that the two-cent difference will allow the county to:
• Expand Pulaski Area Transit’s service to Dublin and Fairlawn;
• Increase funding of Free Clinic services by $2,000;
• Increase funding to the Crossroads Homeless shelter by $1,500;
• Improve the energy efficiency of county buildings and the courthouse to reduce energy bills; and
• Increase funding for development of small businesses by $15,000.
Although the county is in “relatively good financial health,” Huber said it is not in as good condition as it has been in the past.
Conservative spending practices and estimating revenue on the low side in past years allows the county to have $2.3 million more revenue than expenditures, he said. But when the economic downturn is figured into the equation the county’s economic picture isn’t as good as it sounds.
For example, he outlined just under $2 million in expected impacts on the $2.3 million surplus. Some of those impacts include automobile and personal property devaluations of about $462,000; declines in machinery and tools, consumer utility and the 1-percent local tax totaling more than half a million dollars; a decline in motor vehicle fees (almost $81,000); and a “major loss” in interest earnings (more than $850,000) due to changes in interest rates and the fact the funds for Riverlawn Elementary School had been collecting interest.
Supervisors Chairman Joe Sheffey said this is the most difficult budget he has encountered since he joined the board. He noted it also is the first time he has seen the county have to dip into reserves to develop a budget.
Draper District Supervisor Dean Pratt made the motion to approve the 50-cent rate. It was seconded by Massie District Supervisor Frank Conner.
“When we first started working on this, I really thought we would be able to go with the 48-cent rate,” Pratt said. “But when I see what we’re going to have to cut and then end up paying down the road, I make a motion we set (the rate at 50 cents.
Ingles District Supervisor Ranny Akers said the 48-cent rate would be “taking a step back. It’ll end up costing the taxpayers a whole lot more if we take a step backwards.”
Akers said it would be an “injustice” to the taxpayers to go with the 48-cent rate.
“We don’t have enough fingers to plug the hole in the dyke now,” he said.
Just as the board started voting on the rate, a citizen stood to object to any vote being taken. He questioned how the board could set the rate when citizens haven’t seen a budget and the Board of Equalization hasn’t ruled on all of the appeals yet.
Sheffey pointed out the public hearing on the rate was held last month and that citizens will have an opportunity to comment on the budget at a future budget public hearing.
When a second citizen stood to complain that the board of supervisors doesn’t do anything for the Snowville section of the county, Sheffey banged his gavel and told the man to sit down.
Huber said he estimated the total value of reductions to be made to property assessments at around $40 million.

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