Tax rates in Yadkin may go up

YADKINVILLE

Yadkin County residents could be looking at a larger tax bill next year if the 2004-05 budget proposed by County Manager Cecil Wood is approved.

Wood recommended a 5 cent property-tax increase in his $31.2 million budget.

That increase would bring the county tax rate up to 69 cents for every $100 of assessed property value. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $690 in county tax, an increase of $50.

Wood said that after cutting $1.4 million of requests from county departments, expenses still exceeded revenues and the tax increase would help balance the budget.

“The tax increase is needed to meet demands,” he said. The county raised the tax rate most recently in 2001.

Yadkin County Schools will get about $43 of the $50 increase and the rest is reserved to help cover rising Medicaid costs, Wood said.

The school system would receive about $6.7 million under the proposed budget.

Nearly 50 people attended a meeting of the Yadkin Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this week when the Wood presented the budget.

Some representatives of Citizens for a Sound Economy-a group that has opposed tax increases-spoke during the public comment period, Wood said.

Members of that group recently asked commissioners to sign a pledge against raising taxes. Commissioner Brent Hunter said he could not sign the pledge and “tie his hands from doing what’s right for the county.”

Hunter said he expected Wood to recommend the tax increase.

“With the increase in Medicaid and for the schools to receive funding, there had to be a (tax) increase,” Hunter said.

Wood said that the money allocated to the school system helps make the system eligible to receive money from a state fund designated for rural districts that meet certain financial criteria.

The state Department of Public Instruction says that the county should budget a certain amount of money to the school system to make sure that it is meeting the local needs.

“The board sees it as a need that we draw down as much state money as we can,” Wood said.

About $10.6 million is the recommended allocation to Human Services – the largest county expense. Human Services includes the Department of Social Services and the county’s health department.

Wood said that the $1.4 million that was cut from the initial requests would affect county departments and agencies differently.

No jobs are eliminated in the budget proposal, he said, but some departments may not be able to start programs this year that had been planned.

Others may not be able to increase staff size and some capital needs may be delayed for another year, Wood said.

Wood said that although the tax base has increased slightly, the recommended tax increase was still needed to balance the budget.

“The good news is that we think we have stopped the bleeding in our tax base,” Wood said.

“There’s not a big industrial increase, but not any big reduction.”

• Titan Barksdale can be reached at 727-7369 or at tbarksdale@wsjournal.com

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