In the proposed budget presented to commissioners earlier this month, property taxes were slated to go up by about $9 for every $100,000 of property value.
However, cuts made to the sheriff’s office and roads departments, recreation fees as well as a $300,000 transfer from the county’s “rainy day” fund, kept the rate from increasing.
In total, the county cut $103,803 from the proposed budget of $23,945,799, making the 2011 operating budget $23,841,996.
“From day one we said we didn’t want an increase,” commissioner Ken Marks said, “and if we had to do it again, we still wouldn’t increase taxes.”
Carl Henson, chief financial advisor for Catoosa County, previously explained that because sales tax revenue was down in the 2009 calendar year when compared to the previous calendar year, the state-required rollback calculation produced an increase in net property taxes.
The county avoided this state-mandated increase to the taxpayer by cutting its budget.
Sheriff Phil Summers was present at the hearing and said he was “disappointed” in how the county went about cutting the budget.
The $46,413 cut from the sheriff’s office budget was to go towards hiring an additional courthouse security officer — a position Summers said he has been wanting since 2006.
However, Summers said the position will continue to be supplemented by officers at the sheriff’s office.
“I’m not here to complain about money,” Summers said. “I’m here to complain about the process.”
Summers said the county held “closed door” meetings and did not address him directly concerning the sheriff’s office budget.
Marks said the meetings held to discuss budget cuts were not “closed door,” but were not announced or made public because no quorum was established.
Summers said he was also disappointed there was little discussion on budget cuts during a budget work session held session earlier this month. A second work session on the budget was scheduled, but later cancelled.
“There’s always room for improvement as far as the budget goes,” chairman Keith Greene said.
Commissioners and Summers said they were concerned with next year’s budget and the cuts that would have to be made if the economy does not improve.
“I’m not worried about state or federal woes,” Marks said. “I’m worried about what they might pass down to us.”