Deal reached on Adequate Facility Tax

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

After months of back and forth, the Marshall County Commission reached an agreement Monday night on the county’s adequate facilities tax.

Commissioners have considered increasing the rate on new construction since the county Planning Commission made the recommendation in February, but have been unable to agree on how the revenue should be divided.

The adequate facilities tax was enacted to cover the debt assumed by the Board of Public Utilities, the county’s water authority, for a project running 75 miles of water lines through the county.

The first $300,000 collected by the tax, 70 cents per square foot on residential construction and 30 cents on commercial construction, went to the BPU with any over that amount going to the county general fund.

This is the first year that revenue will reach the $300,000 figure, with the total expected to range between $322,000 and $337,000.

Advocates on the commission for the Highway Department sought part of the revenue, which is required by the state to go for infrastructure improvements to support growth, for county roads.

Water system supporters argued that the system could not afford a loss of revenue, considering the demands placed on the water system by growth on the county.

Commissioner Joseph Warner reintroduced his original resolution from March that would have increased the residential rate by 30 cents per square foot and divided any revenue equally between the Board of Public utilities and the county Highway Department.

As expected, Commissioner Mickey King, who represents the commission on the BPU, moved to amend the resolution.

King proposed increasing both the residential rate and the commercial rate by 30 cents, and earmarking the first $300,000 for the Board of Public Utilities. In a change, he proposed any revenue over that amount to go to the Highway Department for asphalt projects.

Previously, King had suggested an even split between the two departments for any funds over that cap.

Commissioners Seth Warf and Patty Parsons questioned King on the change, wondering if the water system wasn’t “selling itself short.”

The commission also had another resolution on the agenda, which would have raised both rates but split revenues between the departments, 70 percent to water and 30 percent to roads.

Commissioner Tony Beyer explained that they felt comfortable guaranteeing the $300,000 to Public Utilities and that the 70/30 split, even with the higher rate, might not bring in the same amount of money to the utility.

Both the amendment and the resolution, as amended, passed by a 13 to four vote.

Commissioners Warner, Toby Adams, Mike Waggoner, and Parsons voted against both.

Adams raised a point that some city of Lewisburg officials had also shared privately.

The tax is paid on new construction anywhere in the county, including within the municipalities served by their own water systems.

The revenue, however, goes entirely into water projects out in the county with no direct benefit to the city or town residents and the water systems that serve them.

The new rate, and new distribution agreement, will go into effect on July 1.

The other major business before the commission were two resolutions concerning the construction of a new building to house the County Health Department.

The commission voted unanimously to suspend the rules for these two items, which had been moved forward to this month after an offer from the state.

There were other resolutions added after the deadline for placement on the agenda, which raised the ire of some commissioners.

Warf stated that the deadline for inclusion was very clear and there was a difference between late-breaking business and submitting items late.

Commissioners voted not to suspend the rules to vote on any of the items that they considered to be late.

For the Health Department, the late request was to comply with a state offer of an additional $100,000 contributed for construction if the county could commit during this fiscal year.

These funds would be in addition to the $100,000 already committed by the state for interior furnishing and fittings.

One resolution authorized County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett to enter the agreement for the engineering and design work, estimated at $118,000, on the building.

The second was a commitment to construct the new building, which is estimated to cost $1.44 million.

The current building was identified as inadequate and out-dated several months ago, and, according to Beyer, the state has been pushing better county health facilities across the state due to uncertainty with Federal healthcare programs.

The new facility will be built next to the existing building on Legion Drive.