Schools Seek Property Tax Increase To Fund Proposed Budget

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For the first time in nearly three months of meetings, the Budget Committee of the Cannon County Commission was presented a proposed budget Tuesday night that included a request for a property tax increase.

The Cannon County School System is proposing raising its portion of the property tax from 87.5 cents to 89.5, which would mean an increase in the current rate from $2.32 to $2.34.

A one cent increase in the property tax rate generates about $20,000 in Cannon County.

Even with the tax increase, Canon County Director of Schools Barbara Parker told the committee that the school system would need to take over $750,000 from its reserves to fund its fiscal year 2010-2011 budget.

"This is the first time I have presented a budget going into reserves," Parker, who is serving in the position for a second time, said. "That troubles me and grieves me a little bit. But the only way not to do that is to cut out transportation and one-time positions."

The depletion would leave the school system with a reserve fund of a little over $1.2 million.

Parker said the budget request includes a three percent pay raise for teachers. The committee, which will make its budget recommendations to the full commission when it meets July 17, is already considering a three percent pay increase for other county employees.

In an economy which continues to struggle and with an election coming up in August, it is uncertain whether the county commission would be in favor of a tax increase to fund budgets this year, either the school system's or the county's general fund.

No candidate running for election to the county commission or for county executive this year has gone on record as being in favor of a property tax increase.

Revenues for the school system for 2010-2011 are projected to be $14,266,860. Expenditures are estimated to come in at $15,016,020.

The largest portion of the school's revenue comes from the state's Basic Education and Early Childhood Education programs, estimated to be $10,811 and $394,000, respectively, during the next fiscal year. The revenue projected from local property taxes for the year is $1,767,160.

Also Tuesday, the committee reviewed the budget of the Cannon County Chamber of Commerce, which is seeking $3000 in funding from the county for the next fiscal year. Chamber coordinator Carolyn Motley said the organization needs money to do a better job of promoting Cannon County.

The next and final meeting of the budget committee will be held at the courthouse next Monday at 6 p.m. They will go over the budget of the highway department first, and then go over all the budgets they have reviewed in preparation for making their recommendations to the full commission.
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