County budget hearing set for Thursday at 9

Published 10:12 am Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors will have a public hearing on the budget for the new fiscal year at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Brookhaven/Lincoln County Governmental Complex. At this meeting, a proposed ad valorem tax revenue decrease in the proposed budget will be considered.

Any resident of Lincoln County is invited to attend this public hearing and will be allowed to speak for a reasonable amount of time and offer tangible evidence before any vote is taken, according to Board President Eddie Brown.

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors is now operating with a projected total budget revenue of $22,508,923 (county and schools). Of that amount 72.6 percent, or $16,342,577, of such revenue is obtained through ad valorem taxes. For next fiscal year, the proposed budget has total projected revenue of $22,226,861 (county and schools). Of that amount 71.6 percent, or $15,905,400, is proposed to be financed through an ad valorem tax levy. This tax levy will represent an ad valorem tax millage decrease of 1.58 mills (Lincoln County 0.0 mills and schools 1.58 mills) and the proposed millage rate will be 103.90 mills (Lincoln County 52.64 mills and schools 51.26 mills).

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There is a $2.7 million increase in county expenditures for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, most of which reflects the $2.5 million baseball park, the funds for which the county already has. Other expenditures, the county was already committed to, such as $80,000 towards the new building at Linbrook Business Park.

Lincoln County’s proposed budget for the new fiscal year includes no additional funds for departments and no pay raises. The county expects to bring in approximately $295,000, or 1.6 percent, less in total revenues than the current fiscal year.

In creating the proposed county budget, Lincoln County Administrator David Fields said his recommendation to the Board of Supervisors was to keep the same budget as the last fiscal year, except for $2.7 million in planned projects.

The county expects to bring in approximately $450,000 less in tax revenue, a 3.77 percent change from last year. It also expects to bring in $155,000 in additional revenues, so the county is looking at approximately $295,000 total less revenue than the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

The $450,000 change in the tax levy was due to an error in the Tax Assessor/Collector’s Office that overestimated what the county would bring in.

Earlier in August, Fields said the miscalculation resulted in total assessed property values being listed as several million dollars too high. The board set the current millage rate too low based on the incorrect assessed values, resulting in a loss of tax revenue to the county.

Fields said generally each year the county collects more taxes than it levied for, and that at the end of the fiscal year there are generally some unexpected revenues — reflected by the $155,000 in other county revenues in this year’s proposed budget.

In August, Fields said the lost tax revenue could be offset by these or other revenues and result in a balanced budget — albeit one that could have seen more in tax revenue if the miscalculation had not been made. The budget reflects having $300,000 less than budgeted last year because of the error.