Polk County approves revenue neutral budget, gives up growth revenue

Published 4:07 pm Thursday, June 25, 2009

The state changed the way it defines revenue neutral this year, allowing governments to include growth rate averaged over the last eight years since the revaluation, so the state will see the county&squo;s tax rate as a three-cent decrease in taxes. But depending on how an individual&squo;s property value changed in the revaluation, his or her taxes could stay about the same, increase or decrease.

The county&squo;s average increase on property values for the revaluation was 34.6 percent, so properties that increased more than the average will see an increase in taxes and properties that increased less than the average will see a decrease in taxes. The county&squo;s growth rate was 5.93 percent, which would have meant $755,000 more in tax revenue if commissioners had chosen a 55 cent tax rate (with growth) instead of the 52 cent rate.

Also included in the budget ordinance is a tax of 35 cents per $100 of valuation for Harmon Field, which Tryon Township residents pay, and a three cent tax rate for the Saluda School District.

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Polk County&squo;s general fund budget for next year is $18,354,362.

The county did not budget any funding for next year to come out of its fund balance.

No employee raises are budgeted next year nor are many capital improvements planned.

The county held several budget work sessions and in finalizing the proposal eliminated $429,551 from the original proposal. Many items were cut, including architect fees for a new department of social services building. Commissioners decided to put that project on hold until 2010. Other major cuts were made to building maintenance and fuel contingency funds as well as many other areas in the budget.

The county&squo;s budget for next year is based on tax collections of 98.17 percent on an estimated total valuation of real property of $2,454,419,919 and motor vehicle valuation of $168,310,600.The new budget year will begin next Wednesday, July 1.