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Tax increase expected for county

In an effort to keep a projected tax increase to a minimum,Lincoln County supervisors Monday rejected funding raises for avariety of agencies and entities supported by the county.

While discussing the new year’s budget, supervisors decided tomaintain current funding levels in the county’s Grants andAppropriations budget and not give any increases. The move means noadditional funding for agencies ranging from Co-Lin to the libraryto the health department.

“I think people are overtaxed, and I don’t think it’d be unjustto anyone to leave it like it is,” said District 2 Supervisor BobbyJ. Watts.

Various agencies in the Grants and Appropriations budget hadasked for a combined $146,256 in funding increases. About half thatamount had been included in a preliminary budget prepared forMonday’s meeting, but supervisors objected to the millage rateproperty tax levy increase that would have required.

“We can’t just keep coming up with money for all theseincreases,” said District 3 Supervisor and Board President NolanEarl Williamson.

Originally, the county’s general fund budget included aprojected tax increase of 2.26 mills.

After board action to reject funding increases, the millageincrease amount was lowered to 1.94 mills. That means propertyowners will be paying about $1.94 more on every $1,000 in assessedvalue of their property.

For county agencies, Williamson indicated the new budget wouldmean some belt-tightening.

“Everybody’s got to cut in a situation like this,” he said. “Wecan’t control the economy.”

Supervisors were reviewing plans to allocate $50 a month forcounty employee pay raises. County officials also lamentedinsurance costs, which rose almost $180,000 from last year to thisyear.

“It just can’t keep going up, up, up,” Williamson said. “Whenthey get it out of the reach of everybody, what are they going todo then?”

According to the preliminary budget summary presented Monday,supervisors are looking at $10.6 million in fiscal year 2003expenditures. That is up about $359,000 over this year’sbudget.

County officials are anticipating about $10.69 million in newyear revenue, which is up just over $452,000 from this year. Amongrevenue sources, $6.5 million is expected from taxes while $4.1million is targeted to come from other sources.

For county schools, district officials have asked for $2.9million for the new fiscal year. That represents an increase of$416,079, or 16.59 percent.

To fund the higher total, county officials are projecting a3.81-mill tax levy increase. That means property owners would bepaying about $3.81 more on every $1,000 of assessed propertyvalue.

With the two increases, the total tax levy for the county andschools would be 84.48 mills, up from the current 78.74 mills. AllLincoln County residents would see the increase for county generalfund operations but only residents of the Lincoln County SchoolDistrict would see the increase for the schools.

Supervisors were expected to meet again next Monday to finalizesome other budget items. The county’s new fiscal year begins Oct.1.