JEFFERSON — The Jefferson County Finance Committee on Wednesday approved a tentative county tax rate increase from $3.94 per $1,000 of equalized valuation in 2012 to $4.14 in 2013.
The corresponding tax levy, if approved by the county board in November, could amount to $26,828,028 in 2013, up $120,185 or .45 percent, from 2012. This increase is allowable under state statutes related to new construction.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department showed a significant budgetary increase as it prepares for 2013.
“We received a report from GMA Engineering Consultants,” Gary Petre, county administrator, said at the conclusion of Wednesday’s finance committee meeting, “and GMA estimated it will cost $370,000 to repair the sheriff’s department’s annex facility. The finance committee intends to use $141,000 available in the sheriff’s department’s budget for 2012 for storage sheds at the annex for this repair project. The money will be carried over to next year and the storage buildings will not be built right away. The finance committee also added $228,000 to reach that (approximate) total of $370,000.”
Petre said that the $228,000 will come from a total of $1.6 million set aside by the county for highway department facilities projects.
Petre said that even if the county board ultimately approves the finance committee’s suggestion to move the $228,000 from the highway budget for facilities upgrades and additions — including the possible addition of two satellite highway department buildings — the county’s highway department will continue to adequately serve the public. He said the majority of money that will be needed for a proposed highway department headquarters upgrade, if it is approved by the county board, will come from bonding.
Petre said he was pleased the finance committee was able to basically adhere to his administrator’s recommended 2013 county budget. He had recommended a tax rate of $4.11 per $1,000.
“The only real difference was the $120,000 increase in the property tax levy that I didn’t recommend,” Petre said. “I understand the committee’s rationale for doing this, however. They discussed the impact on future years’ budgets if they didn’t do this and add that allowable .45 percent.”
Petre said that creating the annual budget is always a challenge, but making the document for 2013 was no more difficult than his effort of 2012, or years previous.
“It was the same process as past years,” he said. “We dealt with increases in employee health insurance and pension contributions. There were some significant requests for capital improvements and building maintenance, but we were able to accommodate those.”
Petre said he is optimistic the budget will be able to pass the scrutiny of the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors this fall.
“I think they will discuss the impact of the property tax levy increase and the allocation of the fund balance and there may be some other requests,” he said.
The next step for the budget, as it was amended and approved by the finance committee Wednesday, is for Petre to present it to supervisors at their Oct. 9 meeting. At that time he will also provide the board members with forms on which they can list amendments they wish to see made to the document.
The board will then have until Oct. 25 to submit its proposed amendments. A public hearing follows on Oct. 23 and the finance committee will meet one last time Nov. 2 to review supervisors’ amendments.
The document is expected to be approved by the county board on Nov. 13.