Budget Committee Proposes 12-Cent Property Tax Hike

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

The Cannon County Commission will be asked to approve a 12-cent increase in the property tax rate at a special session which has been tentatively set for Thursday, Sept. 15.

The commission's Budget Committee approved submitting to the full commission an increase in the property tax rate from $2.32 to $2.44 per $100 of accessed property during a meeting Monday night at the Cannon County Courthouse.

That increase, along with taking money from the county's general fund balance, would fund the requested appropriations for the 2011-2012 fiscal year budget.

The decision to raise the property tax rate 12 cents came after members of the Budget Committee, and other county commissioners who attended Monday's meeting, saw what the effect would be on the budgets of the county's departments if the rate were kept at the current $2.32.

Commissioner Kevin Mooneyham had made the suggestion at the commission's Aug. 23 meeting to see what cuts would be necessary if the rate were not increased. He didn't like what he learned Monday.

"If we do this (cut 7.2 percent) we are crazy," Mooneyham said. "I had no idea what I was talking about. We can't do this. I am not going to watch this county go down the drain."

Under the new proposal, two cents of the increase will now go to funding Solid Waste, which has been running over budget, instead of being earmarked for debt service. County Schools will receive a one cent increase.

"Most of (the county's) departments could not run the way it did last year with a 7.2 percent cut," Budget Committee Chairman and Commissioner Mark Barker said. "Unless we have a tax increase we would have to take (more) money out of the fund balance, and if we kept doing that we would eventually deplete the fund balance."

Commissioner Kevin George said several areas of the county's budget need to be changed, but added there was not enough time to do so this year.

"We as a commission and management need to sit down, between now and next year, and discuss ways to fix things, but we can't do it in the next few weeks," Commissioner George said.

So far during the budget process this year, the budget committee has twice recommended a 20-cent increase in the property tax rate. Both times it was rejected by the full commission. At its Aug. 23 meeting the commission first approved, then rescinded, a 15-cent increase.

(Check back to CannonCourier.com later this week and see next week's print edition of the Cannon Courier for additional coverage of Monday's meeting)