As Marshall County leaders are driving home their annual budget deliberations, Roads Superintendent Jerry Williams remains opposed to a tax rate hike, but still looks for opportunities to provide motorists a smooth drive.
The county's multifaceted spending plan comes with continuing needs for all departments, but as the largest part of the county's spending plan is revealed -- and it's always the school budget -- Williams has recognized restraint and economy as the school board appears to have completed an annual budget request that's not increased and has respectable reserves.
And so amid the closing discussions on spending and what revenues might remain available, Williams offers this comment about county commissioners' view of the treasury, "If they had money and the schools didn't ask for more, then I could use it."
County property tax rates -- like Marshall's at $3.09 per $100 of assessed value -- are cut into allocations of pennies on the rate, thereby giving rise to arcane expressions on how revenue is distributed.
"I need another penny in the (roads) budget," Williams said, advocating his department's needs. "The highway department ought to get more."
Williams has also advocated maintenance to avoid larger costs down the road.
Commissioner E.W. Hill, chairman of the Roads Committee, also spoke up for such allocations with a similar approach.
"If they (commissioners setting the budget) did have something left over, he (Williams) could sure use another penny," Hill said.
Since the budget hasn't been adopted, it's unclear what will finally happen, but the two elected leaders' advocacy, however theoretical, for transferring property tax revenue from schools to roads prompted a basic question.
If school spending does not require the same allocation from the property tax rate, then should that situation be used as an opportunity to lower the tax rate or perhaps allocate the revenue to repay debt?
"That's a good question," Hill replied. "I think the people on the Budget Committee should decide."
Meanwhile, Hill also agreed with Williams, the property tax rate should not increase.