Young County raises tax rate, releases budget

Despite disagreements, the Young County Commissioner’s Court approved a new tax rate and budget for the county.

However, the new tax rate will increase from  $0.751300 to $0.758613 per $100 valuation; the increase will add $7.31 of taxes to proprety valued at $100,000. The rate was originally proposed at $0.799000. The effective rate was set at $0.735903 and the rollback rate was $0.799323.

The approved 2019 fiscal year budget is $12,685,463 and the property tax collected by the county will be $6,928,359 which is $308,807 higher than the previous year. Of the $308,807 about $185,386 will be generated from new properties being taxed, meaning the tax rate increase will produce $123,471 more for the county.

The tax rate increase was not a widely agreed upon decision for the court. The court held votes on the budget, ratification of the tax increase, setting the debt rate and the maintenance and operations rate. The budget and M&O rate resulted in a 3-2 outcome with Pct. 1 Commissioner Mike Sipes, Pct. 2 Commissioner Matt Pruitt and Pct. 4 Commissioner Jimmy Wiley voting for while County Judge John Bullock and Commissioner Pct. 3 Stacey Rogers voted against. Bullock, Sipes, Pruitt and Wiley voted for the ratification of the tax increase and the setting of the debt rate, which is the rate needed to payback any debt the county owes, while Rogers voted against. 

Judge Bullock said the biggest increases in the budget are to law enforcement and detention, then the road and bridge fund and the third is pay raises. Bullock added a big part of the increases come from unfunded mandates given to them by the state legislature which makes the county look like they are forcing the rate increases.

Part of the budget increase is in part to each county employee receiving a $1,200 raise including elected officials like the commissioners, judge, clerk, sheriff and many more. The raise for all elected officials comes out to $18,000. This will be the second straight year most elected officials including the commissioners will see a $1,200 raise. The commissioners 2019 salary will be $42,954 with a car allowance of $14,000.

When the car allowance came into question during the meeting on Monday, Commissioners Pruitt and Sipes said the money is a reimbursement for use of their personal vehicles at $0.54 per mile. The rate takes into account maintenance, cost of car, cost of driving, fuel and insurance. Commissioner Wiley said if the math was done the $14,440 does not cover how much they spend. Pruitt said his newest car is a 2012 truck and he has a 61 mile round trip to his barn.

Commissioner Rogers said he disagreed with giving elected officials a raise because many commissioners had ran for re-election earlier this year but did not have a problem with given hourly employees a raise because of the need to compete with the private market. Judge Bullock said in his proposed budget there were no raises but if there are raises given it must be given to elected officials as well to keep division between employees and decision makers because if not the employees will soon be making more then the decision makers.

“Yeah we got a $100 month raise this year, everyone got a $100 a month raise this year,” Commissioner Sipes added. “To the least paid employee that $100 means more to them percentage wise then it does to the higher paid employees. By not giving a percentage and moving everybody up,  by giving a set rate the top folks don’t get paid as much and the bottom folks get paid more.”

The maintenance and operation rate, which covers the general fund, jury and road and bridge fund, almost failed to pass multiple times. Pruitt made a motion to approve the budget and a call for a second was made. Almost a minute and a half and multiple second calls later a second was made by Sipes. When a call for a vote was made more silence and discussion occurred and nearly a minute later Sipes, Pruitt and Wiley voted for the M&O rate which was followed by an against vote from Bullock and Rogers.

For more information on the tax increase, budget and the commissioner's reasoning for their votes look for this article in the Saturday Sept. 15 edition of The Graham Leader.

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