County Holds Final Budget Hearing

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

April 6, 2005

The Board of Supervisors heard from the public for over two hours on its revised budget proposal, which is set at about $256 million dollars.

With this budget, they tried to forge a compromise with what the public wants, but they learned that you can't please everyone.

"Good thing I have a good heart because it would have killed me," said one man about receiving his new property tax rate in the mail.

The county decided to lower the property tax rate by two cents to a rate of seventy four cents per one hundred dollars of assessed value, but for many this was not enough.

Many people urged the board to lower taxes more. Each time someone asked the board for a lower rate, people applauded. Chair Dennis Rooker continuously asked people not to react to public statements.

Those wanting lower taxes were battling those who want better schools.

Some say cutting the property tax rate shortchanges the schools by taking less money out of the general fund.

This budget seeks to raise teacher's salaries to a competitive level.

"Public education is a long term investment and what you do today effects not just this year but the years after it," said Lisa Moorefield, who has children in the school system.

Others who want relief from skyrocketing property taxes say this long term investment does not have to be as expensive as it is.

"School funding is very important but what the argument about, is what the wants and needs are and where the line between the two is drawn," said Keith Drake, who said his wallet has suffered severely from skyrocketing tax rates.

At the end of the hearing, Supervisor Ken Boyd motioned to lower the rate another two cents to seventy two cents per one hundred dollars of assessed value. Like Drake, he thinks the budget could be more efficient.

"I felt like we could cut another two cents and still provide for the teachers' salaries and provide for the main services that we wanted to," explained Boyd.

His motioned was rejected, however, and is perhaps a sign of what's to come in the final budget.

"I don't think there are huge differences on the board. I think the county is run very efficiently," said Rooker.

The board votes on the budget in two weeks.


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