The county commission voted 9-4 Monday night to increase the property tax rate by 16 cents.
The rate will increase from the current $1.62 to $1.78 per $100 of assessed value. Commissioners Joe Johnson, Jimmy Midgett, Elmer Ellis, Jr. and Betty Atnip voted against the measure, with Ellis commenting that while he had respect for the budget committee, he could not vote himself a tax increase.
Voting in favor of the increase were Jeff Barnes, Mason Carter, Jack Barton, Bradley Hendrix, Anita Puckett, Jerry Adcock, Wayne Cantrell, Kevin Robinson, and Larry Summers. Jonathon Norris was absent.
A 2015-16 budget totaling $40,936,094 was approved by the commission as well.
A public hearing on the proposed budget and tax increase preceded the regular monthly meeting of the commission. The public hearing began at 5:30 p.m., while the regular meeting took place at 6 p.m.
Many commissioners felt the 16-cent property tax increase was necessary to keep the county from borrowing money to operate before the fiscal year ends, and county financial advisor Steve Bates advised them that without the action the county would have to dip too far into reserve funds this fiscal year.
The commissioners voted 10-3 to pass an appropriations resolution form2015-16. Johnson, Midgett, and Atnip voted against the measure. Hendrix and Puckett, both employed by the school system, declared that while they had a conflict (because the budget contains increased funds for schools), they would vote their conscience.
The commissioners voted unanimously to approve funding for several charities, and the consolidated budget.
While only one person came forth to address the commission in opposition to the tax increase at the public hearing, several representatives of the DeKalb Animal Coalition took the opportunity to ask commissioners to help fund a new animal shelter. The City of Smithville included $75,000 for the facility. County Mayor Tim Stribling and Commissioner Jack Barton both told those concerned that they plan to bring the matter up at the August commission meeting.
The 2015-16 county budget will be dispersed as follows:
•County General Fund: 94 cents (twelve-cent increase over last year).
•County Highway Department: 4 cents (one-cent increase).
•General Capital Projects: 11 cents (one-cent increase).
•Debt Service: 12 cents.
•General Purpose Schools: 57 cents (two-cent increase).
Proposed Capital Projects fund expenditures for the year total $373,670, and include:
•Other Equipment $12,500.
•Fire department (repairs to fire trucks) $33,670.
•Omega Apparel building $40,000.
•Building Construction (seed money for proposed Four Seasons Fire Station) $25,000.
•Skid Steer/Backhoe (for the landfill) $70,000.
A resolution to set aside $146,681 for the following non-profit organizations will be considered:
•DeKalb Soil Conservation District-$33,166.
•Senior Citizens Program-$25,839.
•DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce-$17,500.
•DeKalb County Rescue Squad-$16,821.
•UCHRA Assessment-Homemaker Aide, etc.-$9,245.
•Plateau Mental Health-$7,180.
•Veterans Honor Guard-$2,000.
•Upper Cumberland Development District-$2,000.
•Upper Cumberland Child Advocacy Center-$1,780.
•Tennessee Division of Forestry-$1,500.
•DeKalb County Fair-$1,500.
•Upper Cumberland Human Resources-$1,200.
One cent of the tax rate is estimated to generate $44,328 in local money, with a seven-percent delinquency rate figured into the equation.