Public hearing on budget is tonight
Two-cent tax increase proposed
by Larry Chowning
The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on a proposed $19,770,137 county and school budget for 2013-14 (FY14) on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in the historic courthouse in Saluda.
The proposed budget calls for a 2-cent real estate tax increase that could generate about $425,000 in new revenues for the county. The proposed rate is 48 cents per $100 of value.
County administrator Matt Walker recommended the increase to cover anticipated costs related, in part, to state mandates that will require the county to take over authority of storm-water management issues. Previously, this was the responsibility of the state.
Also, the new funds would generate additional revenues to cover capital improvements and to offset delinquent real estate taxes that have resulted in a $400,000 “temporary” funding shortfall.
At the board’s April 4 meeting, board chairman Carlton Revere reminded supervisors the tax shortfall involve funds the county will eventually get from taxpayers. “I know the treasurer is working hard to collect the taxes, and some of these funds will be collected,” he said.
The budget calls for a 2% raise for county employees starting January 1, which means the raise starts after the year is half over. This means it will be a 1% raise for the FY14 budget and 2% thereafter.
County school employees will receive a 2% raise, which will be partially funded by the state. The Governor has called for a 2% raise for teachers and other contract school personnel. The state will pay based on each county’s composite index (CI). Unfortunately, Middlesex has a high CI of .7431, which means the county spends about 75 cents of every dollar spent on local education.
The proposed $13,746,550 school budget calls for a $205,086 (1.51%) increase over the current FY13 budget. Over $100,000 of the increase involves capital improvements to make the three county school buildings safer.
The total county-wide budget reflects a $659,744 (3%) increase. Some of the increase comes from higher debt service due to the Syd Thrift Athletic Complex ($118,778 increase), increased cost of emergency services ($44,463 increase) and school capital improvements ($70,000 increase).
The main increase, however, is 3% more in local funds ($211,917) for the Middlesex County Public School System.
Federal funding to the schools is $141,409 less, while state funding increased slightly.
Real estate property taxes are expected to produce $10,383,000, which is the main means of revenue for the county.
Personal property taxes are expected to raise $3,055,535.