Recommended budget for Polk includes no fire tax increasesPublished 6:42pm Monday, May 14, 2012
Meeting tonight, 7 p.m.
Local fire departments requesting property tax increases this year may have to plead their case before commissioners tonight, because Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson’s recommended budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year does not include any of the requested fire tax increases.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners will hold a special meeting tonight to hear from the county’s six fire departments, the Harmon Field Board of Supervisors and the Polk County Rescue Squad regarding requests for next year’s budget.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Womack building, located in Columbus.
The Columbus and Mill Spring fire departments each have requested a one-cent tax increase this year from the county. Saluda Fire and Rescue has requested a one-cent increase from the city, not from the county’s portion of the budget.
Columbus has requested an increase from 4 cents to 5 cents per $100 of property valuation in order to hire three employees so the department can be staffed 24 hours a day. Currently Columbus has a paid fire chief who works first shift Monday through Friday.
A one-penny increase for Columbus would mean an additional $64,000 from Columbus Township residents. Columbus also collects city taxes for the fire department.
Mill Spring has requested to increase its tax from 5 cents to 6 cents per $100 of valuation. Mill Spring is asking for the increase to help offset increased fuel costs and increases in other supplies used by the department. Mill Spring fire officials said if approved, this would be the first fire tax increase in four years.
A one-penny increase in Mill Spring would mean an additional $32,000 for the department.
Harmon Field, the rescue squad, Tryon, Saluda, Sunny View and Green Creek fire departments are not requesting any increases from the county tax rates.
Saluda is asking for the city fire tax rate to increase from 5.5 cents per $100 of property valuation to 6.5 cents, which would match its current Polk County tax rate of 6.5 cents.
Tryon’s fire tax rate is 4.8 cents per $100 of valuation; Green Creek is 4.1 cents per $100 of valuation; Sunny View is 6 cents per $100 of valuation and Harmon Field is 3.5 cents per $100 of valuation. Saluda residents also have a Saluda School tax of 3 cents per $100 of valuation.
Whitson presented his recommended budget to commissioners on May 7. It included no tax increases. Whitson said he has never submitted a proposed budget with a tax rate increase in his eight years as county manager, nor does he believe in using fund balance for general operations.
“I am again this year opposed to any tax increase for any of the citizens of Polk County,” Whitson told commissioners.
Commissioners will hear from the fire departments tonight and discuss the requested increases.