By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Pulaski County’s administrator says a tax increase may be needed if the county is to overcome a projected $14.8 million shortfall in its 2013-14 budget.
With no adjustments to the current figures, Pete Huber said it appears there could be a shortfall of $14,777,919 in the upcoming fiscal year budget. He said some figures remain uncertain, including the amount of funding Pulaski County schools will request, but there is a request for more than $15 million in capital improvements in the coming year.
Huber and Assistant County Administrator Robert Hiss said they are “working hard” with departments in reducing line items in operations in an effort to balance the budget and limit the impact on capital improvements. However, Huber said it is difficult to make up a nearly $15 million shortfall with $1,500 in cuts here and there.
“It’s probably going to require some kind of revenue change,” such as a tax increase, to balance the budget, said Huber.
He noted that there is a limited amount of time the county has to advertise for personal property and/or real estate tax increases. Therefore, he suggested the supervisors review budget figures provided to them Monday night and be prepared to discuss at a March 4 budget work session the possibility of advertising for a rate increase.
Just because a rate increase is advertised, doesn’t mean the board is bound to adopt any increase, Huber noted. It merely provides an opportunity to increase rates up to the maximum amount advertised if the board later determines there is a need for an increase.
Massie District Supervisor Andy McCready suggested Pulaski County School Board also be provided with the budget projections the supervisors received Monday night “so they can see where the county stands.”
Although capital improvements have fallen behind over the years, McCready reminded the supervisors that $18 million in capital improvements in the current budget has helped the county and schools make some progress. “The hill is still high, but we’ve taken a few steps up that hill of capital improvements,” he said. “Obviously we still have more to do, but we’ve made some progress.”
Huber said one area of major concern in the 2013-14 fiscal year budget is health insurance for the county and schools. The supervisors and school board held a joint meeting Tuesday night to consider health insurance options for the coming year.