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Putnam Could Need A 50-Cent Property Tax Increase

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Putnam Could Need A 50-Cent Property Tax Increase

Putnam County’s new fiscal year budget could require a 50-cent property tax increase if budget committee members funded every request.

Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter told the committee Monday night the pre-discussion budget draft shows general fund expenditures of some $58.4 million. That is some $10.2 million over projected revenues.

Committee Chair Ben Rodgers told the committee they need to come to Thursday’s meeting ready to make decisions about what the county can and cannot afford.

“Our job as a budget committee is to figure out how much you want to increase revenue,” Rodgers said. “That is our job, to propose something to the county commission. This is how much we’re willing to recommend to the full commission to increase revenue based on our request, and we have to figure that out. So you have to think about do you want to raise it the full $0.49. Do you want to raise it half of that? You got to think about it, pray about it. That’s where you’re at.”

The budget number includes 92 new positions, the majority of which will serve the new Justice Center expansion, and step increases for current employees. The current budget plan raises the step levels for the first time in years.

The expense number could go higher as Porter presented a cost figure of $2.8 million Monday night to fund market adjustments for county employees. A just-completed salary study found Putnam County below both government and private sector wages on most jobs. The Budget Committee requested a number to fix all the issues from department heads and county officials as it begins its deliberations.

Porter said the county could reduce its fund balance which sits at about $24 million. He said he would not be comfortable with the balance going below $15 million.

“When you start looking at our payrolls that we have to do every other week and property tax money doesn’t start coming in really much till November and December,” Porter said. “I mean, you got a lot of money that’s being paid out in those months. Because you don’t ever know when we’re going to have a tornado or an ice storm or that we may pay out several million dollars to have to wait on FEMA for it could be a year or two.”

Using fund balance to make up a budget deficit, Porter said, comes with a caveat: most spending is reoccurring.

“Be careful how much you hit that because you got to hit it every year unless it’s one-time expenditures,” Porter said.

Porter said the fiscal year wrapping up has been a “pretty good year” for the county with projected revenue of $51 million. That’s about $5.3 million more than budgeted. Porter said at least $3 million of that is from increased interest made on fund balances.

Based on last year, Porter said he estimates revenues at some $48.2 million for the new fiscal year ahead.

Rodgers said the committee has roughly three weeks to come up with its best plan to fund the county.

“You probably got more coming at you this year than I ever remember in a budget,” Porter said. “But look at how we’re growing. All the departments are having to provide more people services. Inflation hit us.”

“This is the toughest decision that you will make all year, and there’s no right or wrong answer. You’ve got to do what you think is the best for the county and for the citizens of the county.”


The post Putnam Could Need A 50-Cent Property Tax Increase appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.