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County taxes rate holds steady for third year

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

During a lengthy meeting on Monday morning, the Caldwell County Commissioners Court voted to approve the tax rate and budget for the 2010-2011 Fiscal Year, after more than two months of workshops, meetings and public hearings.

In light of the economic times facing the average homeowner, the Commissioners struggled with

the budget this year, cutting back in almost every feasible department, in an effort to not raise the tax rate over the $0.6910 rate established two years ago.

Although the rate itself did not increase, the average Caldwell County taxpayer will likely see an increase on their tax bill, due out next week, because property appraisal values have increased throughout the county.

All told, maintaining the existing tax rate will increase the county’s total tax revenue by less than $511,000, nearly half of which results from new property added to the appraisal rolls, whether through tax sale, new construction or renovation.

The budget approved by the Commissioners plans for around $15.7 million in total expenditures for the county, 53 percent of which is attributable to personnel costs. Although the Court was not able to offer a “cost of living” increase for employees this year, they did budget for a $900 pay increase for all full time employees.

Another large factor in the budget is the revenue the county hopes to generate through a contract with the US Marshals Office to house prisoners at the Caldwell County Jail. That agreement is expected to bring in upwards of $666,000 in revenues.

Having been careful to trim costs where they could, the Commissioners budgeted for an increase in operating expenses of only $77,377, or approximately 1.3 percent.

For those interested in fully reviewing the budget, copies of the 2010-2011 Budget are available at the County Auditor’s Office.

In a related item, the Court heard information regarding enrollment in the Caldwell County Indigent Health Program.

The program currently serves around 70 Caldwell County residents whose income is 21 percent or more below the Federal poverty level, and who do not qualify for other government-assisted healthcare, such as Medicare or Medicaid.

In brief news:

They discussed a Rural Fire Protection Service Contract between Caldwell County and the incorporated volunteer fire departments. Although the Court’s attorney, Assistant DA Ron Heggemeier, suggested the contract include a provision that the volunteer fire departments name Caldwell County as an “additional insured,” County Judge Ronnie Duesterheft said he was concerned that provision would “dilute coverage,” and declined to add the provision. Over Heggemeier’s concerns, the commissioners present opted to approve the contract.

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