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The Ringgold County Board of Supervisors received some pushback from taxpayers during the annual budget public hearing held in the courthouse assembly room Monday morning.
As a result, the supervisors said they would go back and look at the budget again to see if savings could be found. The supervisors were scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon to review the budget. Results of their deliberations will be covered in next week’s Record News as the decisions from the meeting will come after the press deadline.
The supervisors proposed budget called for $4.90 in the General
Basic Tax rate per $1,000 of taxable value. That amount exceeds the statutory maximum of $3.50, an increase of $466,817 over the maximum. This will be the third year in a row of a $4.90 tax rate.
A number of citizens were on hand to voice their displeasure with the increase, imploring the board to go back to the drawing board and find some savings.
“Things are pretty tough out there.” said James Goins of Diagonal. “We are really concerned about the increase. We want our tax dollars spent wisely. What do we have to do to get back to$3,50?”
Supervisor chairman Kraig Pennington said the board understands people’s concerns with the increase. He said the increase was caused by a number of items, including pay increases for county employees, updating county software, road projects and contributing the the Ringgold County Development Corporation’s desire to hire a full time director to lure more business and industry to the county.
“What services do you want us to cut back on?”, he asked. “We need to take care of our people, we need to provide services. I agree we have to get back to the $3.50 in the future, that’s our goal for next year, but cutting to get there this year will effect people and services.”
Michelle Beck urged the supervisors to be more proactive in the future to identify budget savings. She suggested time studies of county employee duties or focus groups to help the county identify cost savings.
Ringgold County Conservation Board Director Kate Zimmerman defending the three percent raises for county employees in the proposed budget.
“We work hard,” said Zimmerman.
Pennington said the reason taxes are increasing for county residents is because of increased property valuations. He also questioned why the county is always singled out to lower tax levies. He said the school and hospital also should be brought to the table to help provide some relief.
The budget provided $25,000 toward the county’s share of funds to help the Ringgold County Development Commission hire a full time director to attract business and industry to the county. Other groups, including the City of Mount Ayr, also have pledged funds. Historically, the county has provided $12,500 for the development group, but no funds were included in the past two year’s budgets.
A number of audience members questioned the expenditure.
“We need to attract business. This one year commitment will help with that,” said Pennington.
The budget proposed by the supervisors called for $9,651,128 in revenue, down a little over $28,000 from last year, mainly due to receiving FEMA this fiscal year.
Total expenditures in the budget were set at $10,436,768, down $44,557 from this year. Most of the reduction is due to a seventh sheriff’s deputy not being budgeted next year.