Even though there’s hope of finally seeing light at the end of our long, dark, economically-depressed tunnel, we know the county likely remains years away from significant improvement.
County commissioners and staff are struggling to balance a budget with less projected property tax money than last year.
If you run a local business, you’re probably facing the same struggles.
However, the county can increase the tax rate to account for declining property values.
We appreciate commissioners having some good, open discussion about the merits of a tax rate increase and what needs and doesn’t need to be paid for in the budget; however, after listening to and reading commissioners’ comments, it seems a rate increase is a real possibility.
We urge commissioners to continue exploring all options besides raising that property tax (millage) rate.
One possible source of some savings — which was mentioned at one point by Commissioner J.C. Henderson — is changing the county’s management structure. Currently, we have both a full-time county manager and a full-time chairman.
The question was asked during the election, and we’ll ask it again: Do we need both? A full-time county manager should be able to handle the majority of duties, while an annual salary of $40,000 or so should be plenty for a chairman.
There seems to be little reason to pay each of them roughly the same amount, in the $80,000s.
Before any county employees lose their jobs or the public is asked to pick up more of the burden, we’d encourage commissioners to examine this issue as part of the solution.
If nothing else, maybe that money can be reallocated to hire a grant writer, a position that could bring in a couple million dollars through his or her targeted efforts.