By Max Hrenda
After hours of discussion, debate and more than a dozen votes – and with six fewer commissioners – the Carter County Commission ultimately approved an 18-cent increase to the county’s property tax rate Monday.
Commissioners voted 13-4 in favor of the increase, with six commissioners absent and one, Joel Street, abstaining, to put the tax rate at $2.33 for every $1,000 of a property’s value. The increase will add 15 cents to the county’s General Fund and 3 cents to the Debt Service Fund.
Although the increase will balance the General Fund in its entirety, Finance Director Ingrid Deloach said the new rate of 14 1/2 cents for Debt Service will not be enough to sustain the county in the event of an emergency or new project.
“(Next year) they’ll have to increase even more just to balance it,” Deloach said. “We’re just putting off the inevitable.”
Currently, the Debt Service fund has a balance of $3,081,265.06. With the new tax rate of 14 1/2 cents, after the payment of bills, the balance will fall to $1,910,034.64 by next year. By the 2016-2017 budget year, at that same tax rate, the balance will be in the negative by $136,886.19.
“That’s almost 2 cents there that they would have to raise just to come clean in (2016-2017),“ Deloach said. “Then, if you should have to borrow money, you’ll have to raise taxes for the whole yearly payment.”