Budget committee seaching for answers with lower revenues

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Faced with shrinking revenues from sales and property taxes, Marshall County's Budget Committee was scheduled to reach some decisions this week on an annual budget that could total some $74 million.

"It is a very tight budget," said County Commissioner Don Ledford, a member of the Budget Committee. "In my estimation there will be very little taking. Everybody will have to give a little. This is not the year to dig your heels in" for more spending.

The $74 million total includes spending on schools, the county water utility and general government operations, all of which receive state, federal and county revenues. Budget reviews resume at 7:30 a.m. Friday in the County Courthouse Annex.

A marathon meeting is anticipated as County Budget Director Freda Terry commented last Thursday night, "We'll go until whenever," and Commissioner Mickey King, chairman of the committee concluded, "We may not get through, but we'll know where we are."

During the Budget Committee meeting Thursday, Terry reviewed numbers released earlier that day by County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett who said he anticipated the county would receive about $1.1 million less during this fiscal year of 2009-2010 from sales and property tax revenues.

Earlier this summer, there were estimates that revenue from the adequate facilities tax would also be down to about $150,600. Up to $300,000 of he tax was to be sent to the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities, so that revenue stream is about half of what it had been projected at a couple of years ago.

When asked if there might be a property tax rate hike this year, Commissioner Wilford "Spider" Wentzel immediately replied, "No." However, King replied, "We have not gotten far enough into the budget to know, but the intention is to leave it the same."

The property tax rate is 3.09 per $100 of assessed value of a property.

Forty cents of the $3.10 rate has been used to pay debt during the 2008-09 fiscal year. During the 2009-10 fiscal year, some $5,072,000 is to be paid in principle and interest on the county debt that totals more than $40 million. The amount to be paid on the principle in 2009-10 is $3.42 million.