County taxes expected to go up one penny

Jun. 13, 2014 @ 06:33 PM

Commissioners’ debate over the county’s budget may be drawing to a conclusion.

Most county commissioners gained consensus Friday on a 1-cent property tax increase and an appropriated fund balance of about $500,000 to meet departmental requests for equipment upgrades and personnel additions.

If it stands, the property tax increase would be Vance County’s first rate change since 2008-2009, when it dropped from 79.8 cents per $100 valuation to the current 78.2 cents. In 2007-2008, it was 92 cents per $100 valuation. Property revaluations last took place in 2008 and come again in 2016.

The last time commissioners passed a budget that raised the property tax was nine years ago, for the 2005-2006 budget, when it went from 90 cents per $100 valuation to 92 cents.

In Friday afternoon’s budget work session, the board heard county manager Jerry Ayscue’s revisions on the budget.

He and staff decreased the budget by $1.4 million as the commissioners asked by pulling out departmental requests for additional funds for office supplies, capital outlay and maintenance needs.

Ayscue said the board could add back pressing items by denoting about $300,000 to the fund balance and approving a 1.3-cent tax increase.

The extra revenue would pay for:

• Salary adjustments for county employees, including an $804 increase to the base salaries and 35-cent increase to hourly pay. The overall pay plan would increase by 1.5 percent.

• Health insurance premiums for county employees, which would increase by 4.53 percent next year.

• Additional positions in Social Services and Emergency Communications departments, the senior center, Planning and Development and the Vance County Cooperative Extension.

• Primary control of the Henderson-Vance Recreation and Parks Department with the switch in operational management from 45 percent to 55 percent.

• Radios, Tasers and an animal control box for Animal Control.

• Additional security at Vance-Granville Community College.

• Radio upgrades and two sets of turnout gear for the fire department.

• A typewriter for the Register of Deeds.

Ayscue said funding these requests added an additional $600,000 to the staff’s flat budget.

The board battled for hours over whether to keep Ayscue’s suggested tax increase or apply it all to the fund balance.

Commissioner Dan Brummitt said the county did not have the money to do that, and should cut the extra budget items.

“You don’t fund your fund balance with non-reoccurring funds,” he said.

Commissioner Gordon Wilder maintained his stance against a tax increase. He said the county would regret it in the long run.

“The tax base is not there, and it definitely won’t be there in 2016,” Wilder said. “It’s hard for me to ask a person to pay the same amount on property that is 70 percent of what it was.”

Commissioners Deborah Brown, Terry Garrison, Tommy Hester and Archie Taylor moved their peers to compromise by suggesting a proposed tax increase 0.3 cents less than Ayscue’s plan.

The commissioners plan would mean about $10 in additional tax responsibilities for every $100,000 in property.

The county has maintained a rate of 78.2 percent for the last five years.

Brown said the public should be informed and educated about tax increases a year earlier in the future.

“Its something we should consider so we don’t spring surprises on people,” Brown said. “That way they can better prepare.”

Commissioner Brummitt left the work session early, and commissioner Eddie Wright did not attend.

The final budget proposal has to pass the full board on June 23.

Before the work session, the board called a special meeting to approve sale of the former National Guard Armory on Dabney Drive in followup to Thursday’s auction.

The board approved a sale to bidder Kent Davis of South Carolina if the full $32,500 is received promptly and the property be released to him under his name.

Another bidder, acting on Davis’s behalf, submitted the bid online. Davis later expressed his intentions to claim the property.

Brown asked staff to consult with Roger’s Realty and Auctions to get legal implications of the name change before finalizing the sale.

The board also approved:

• A financing agreement for the purchase of 10 law enforcement vehicles through BB&T. The bank had the lowest of three bids at 1.59 percent financing for a total of $300,000.

• Bids for repair work on three homes on U.S. 158, Vance Street and Bullocksville Road through the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments Community Development Block Grant.

 

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.