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New law could cut tax rate

Pipeline windfall plus tax lid replacement could cut 9.363 mills

Staff writers

Unless it invokes special procedures, Marion County will have to reduce its property tax rate by 12.7% next year to comply with a new state law discouraging increased spending attributable to valuation windfalls.

Primarily because of the end of a 10-year exemption for the Keystone pipeline crossing the county, the county will be able to raise as much money for 2022 as it raised for 2021 by imposing a tax rate of just 66.412 mills instead of its current 76.048 mills, county clerk Tina Spencer said Monday.

Don’t expect the county to cut its rate by 9.363 mills, however.

Keeping the rate the same would give the county, which recently approved raises for nearly every employee, 14.5% more taxpayer money to spend.

To take advantage of that windfall, the county would have to convene a special hearing, and commissioners would have to vote specifically to raise more money from property taxes than was raised in previous year.

This year, notification would be published in the Record. Starting next year, the county clerk also would have to send letters or emails to all taxpayers informing them of the hearing to increase taxes beyond a “revenue neutral” rate.

The new law replaces a controversial tax lid that would have required a referendum to increase tax revenue but allowed governments to avoid elections by classifying expenses as contributing to reserves for various types of public safety expenses and emergencies.

In budget deliberations Monday and Tuesday, the county’s road and bridges department proposed increasing its personnel expenses by as much as 38.3% in some categories, spending $500,000 for new road graders and other capital expenses, and $27 million for blacktopping.

The emergency medical department modified its written request to include a 5.4% increase in personnel expense because of the county’s new pay schedule.

New cardiopulmonary resuscitation equipment for ambulances based in Peabody and Tampa also were proposed, switching vehicles to a four- rather than five-year lifespan, and adding a power loader for stretchers also were proposed.

When emergency manager Randy Frank submitted a budget proposal Tuesday, commissioners questioned him about driving too fast with his lights and sirens on when responding to emergencies.

Commission chairman Randy Dallke said he wouldn’t want friends or family endangered because they didn’t notice Frank coming.

Commissioner Kent Becker said he wanted Frank to drive the speed limit, whether or not his lights were flashing.

Dallke said the commission would write a policy on the driving speed of the emergency manager.

Last modified June 17, 2021

 

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