With funds running low, Boyle Fiscal Court discusses tax hike

August 11, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Boyle magistrates will have to raise taxes or cut services to deal with the county's shrinking money supply, Judge-Executive Tony Wilder said at Tuesday's Fiscal Court meeting.

The county dipped into its surplus for $674,000 this year. By June 30, the county expects its surplus to be down to $200,000.

"I don't want to candy-coat it. I wanted to be frank with you today," Wilder said. "It does not take a CPA to see we need to alter this."

Boyle property owners pay 5.3 cents for $100 of assessed value, 6.9 cents for $100 of assessed value on motor vehicle and tangible property and a 0.45 percent payroll tax.


Wilder said Boyle has the lowest property, motor vehicle and tangible tax rates in the state, and pointed out that rates had been reduced since 1992. The payroll tax, he said, was the second lowest in the state.

"I think I would prefer to keep property tax low and raise payroll tax," Wilder said.

"That's the most fair," Magistrate Phil Sammons said. "Sixty percent of our employees are from out-of-county."

The county has spent $4 million in surplus money on Millennium Park in eight years. Wilder said funding to the park has been reduced.

Wilder said jail costs have escalated, and because it isn't housing juveniles or as many state inmates, the county isn't making as much money off the operation.

At one point Sammons suggested that the county stop giving the inmates air conditioning, calories and dental treatment. Wilder said that isn't feasible, that the law requires them to provide certain living conditions for the prisoners.

"They do give up their freedom," Wilder said.

The county only pays to have teeth pulled, not fixed.

Boyle and Mercer counties still owe $5.9 million on the jail construction.

Employee health insurance costs have risen as claims doubled this year. Wilder said that the county will encourage preventive medicine, and perhaps a change to the $25 emergency room co-pay. Wilder worried that the low cost encourages people to go to the hospital.

Sammons said the county pays for a lot, like dental insurance, that could probably be reduced.

Wilder told magistrates that he believes that residents get a good deal for their county tax dollar, such as emergency service, solid waste, recycling, road repair, snow removal, dead animal removal, animal control and parks.

Magistrate John Hudson said that he wanted to review all the services to make sure they were done efficiently and that it was necessary.

Wilder told the court they could trim, but that it wouldn't remedy the county's growing money shortage.

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