Supervisors approve tight 2001 budget

Published 5:00 am Monday, September 11, 2000

With a tight 2001 budget that includes a tax increase, LincolnCounty supervisors say they will have to maintain a close watch onexpenses next year.

“We’ve got to make every effort to stay within the budget,” saidDistrict 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson Friday during a publichearing and special meeting to approve the fiscal year 2001budget.

The $10.009 million 2001 budget, which went through severalrounds of cuts, is 7.37 percent higher than this year’s $9.3million budget. The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

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With a 3.31-mill increase on the tax levy, the new budget isanticipating $5.8 million from property taxes. The increase isexpected to bring in $702,445 more from those taxes.

Including a .82-mill increase to fund Lincoln County SchoolDistrict operations, the total tax increase amounts to 4.13 mills,according to a county budget summary.

One mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 of assessed propertyvalue. The increase means property owners will be paying about$4.13 more on every $1,000 of assessed value, which is 10 or 15percent of a property’s real value, depending on homesteadexemption provisions.

Also going up next year will be solid waste fees.

Supervisors earlier approved an increase from $6 a month to$7.50 a month. Those who pay for the garbage services on a yearlybasis will get a $1 a month break.

Supervisors said the increase was needed to offset a projected$100,000 shortfall this year in garbage service revenue. Countiesare required by state law to pick up garbage and officials saidcurrent fees were not meeting expenses.

“There’s no way around it,” said District 1 Supervisor CliffGivens earlier when the board approved the increase. “We got to getthe money to do it with.”

Early in the budget process, county officials said the revenueand expenditure expectations were about $650,000 out of a line.Revenue is still about $128,000 below expenditures but, despite thedeficit, officials were satisfied with the budget.

“Given the number of unavoidable expenses facing thesupervisors, I believe the budget is fair,” said Tillmon Bishop,county administrator.

Bishop said there have been several years of deficit budgets andreserve funds may be needed again to make up differences. However,a revenue stream officials are pursuing is over $2 million inoutstanding fines in circuit court and justice court.

“If we can pick up some of that revenue, I think we can make upsome of the deficit,” Bishop said.

Among the unavoidable expenses facing the county this year arehigher costs for staffing and operating the new jail, costsassociated with a state-mandated reappraisal of county propertyvalues and overall higher fuel costs on a countywide basis.

Other expenses include almost $400,000 in payments on over $1million in current equipment or new equipment needed for thecounty’s return to the beat system of government Oct. 1.Supervisors have said new equipment would have been neededregardless of whether the county stayed under the unit system orreturned to the beat system.

Also in the expenditure column is $93,000 in debt service on a$700,000 bond issue for library improvements and new jail costoverruns. The $500,000 for the library is being matched by a stategrant to expand the library’s children’s area, upgrade handicapaccessibility and make other modifications.

Supervisors are scheduled to move forward with bond issue planson Oct. 2. A written protest containing 1,500 registered voters’signatures or 20 percent of registered voters, whichever total isless, could force an election on the bond issue.

With the beat system return, supervisors will in effect beoperating their own businesses starting Oct. 1. Board members werewarned during the budget process that any expenditures will comedirectly from funds they to operate their beats.

Supervisors said that means they will have to be conscientiousabout their spending plans.

“We’re just going to have to work hard and keep an eye on it,”said District 5 Supervisor Gary Walker.