By Max Hrenda
Faced with the choice of either raising taxes or reducing government services, Carter County’s Budget Committee decided to do a bit of both.
The committee voted 6-1 Thursday to recommend a sweeping 5-percent cut from the General County Budget offices’ budgets from last fiscal year, with the assumption an 8.5-cent increase in the General Fund tax rate would also be required to balance the spending plan.
With an earlier recommendation to raise the Debt Service rate by 15 cents, that would leave Carter County property owners facing a 23.5-cent increase in their property tax rate.
Though the committee and office holders had previously reduced the total from last year’s budget by a combined $140,693.72, the 5-percent cut negated those efforts, while increasing the total savings to approximately $656,295.19.
Despite those savings, however, the committee must still account for more than $818,000 to balance the General Fund, which could translate to a tax increase.
“Nobody wants to think about raising taxes,” said Committee Chairman Harry Sisk. “But we’re facing a crisis, and we need to come together as a committee and get this done.”
Commissioners debated the necessity of a tax increase throughout the course of the meeting. Before voting on the 5-percent cut, Commissioner William Armstrong made an early motion to increase the General Fund tax rate by 17 cents, which would have fully balanced the fund.