Polk manager recommends budget with no tax increase

Published 11:08 am Friday, May 6, 2011

Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson has proposed a budget with no tax increase for fiscal year 2011-2012.
Whitson presented his recommended budget to county commissioners Monday, May 2. The county has work sessions scheduled Monday and Tuesday, May 9-10 at 5 p.m. to discuss the proposal in more detail with departments and Wednesday, May 11 at 6 p.m. to hear proposals from county fire departments, the Harmon Field Board of Supervisors and the Polk County Rescue Squad. All work sessions will be held at the Womack building in Columbus.
The budget includes no employee salary increases, but a $300 Christmas bonus, up from this year’s $100 bonus. The recommended budget also includes $200,000 for future Lake Adger Dam repairs, $150,000 in fuel contingency, $300,000 additional to the school system, $100,000 for county-wide water and water line extensions and $50,000 for the contingency fund.
“The proposed budget shows that Polk County is still surviving the current economic recession without using fund balance to operate on and without raising the tax rate,” Whitson told commissioners. “Polk County is being hurt by the state’s reduction in funding to our school system. To offset state reductions, this proposed budget increases school funding by $300,000 per Polk County School’s request.”
Polk County’s funding to the school system represented 19.4 percent of its amended budget this year and with the $300,000 addition will represent $23.3 percent of the county’s proposed general fund budget for next year.
The tax rate is recommended to stay at 52 cents per $100 of valuation, with the total budget proposal at $25,998,075.
Polk’s general fund budget is proposed at $20,797,175 (see table above). That number is brought to the total budget of $25,998,075 by the addition of special revenue funds at $2,779,415, the enterprise fund for solid waste and water at $1,195,045, internal service fund for health insurance at $1,126,440 and capital projects at $100,000 for the county’s water and water line extensions.
The total real property valuation is $2,587,231,539, which is an increase of $7,431,480 or 0.3 percent. The collection rate is down from the previous year at 96.78 percent, according to the 2010 audit, compared to the previous year at 97.62 percent. Whitson said at the current tax collection rate, the county should bring in $13,020,398 in property tax revenue.
The value for motor vehicles is down, Whitson said, to $138,628,377 from $165,074,797 the previous year, but the collection rate is slightly up. The 2011-2012 estimated figures should bring in $643,661 in motor vehicle tax revenue, Whitson estimates.
The total revenue estimated from property and motor vehicle taxes is $13,954,059, which is $198,186 less than what was projected in the current year’s budget.
The county is also projected to receive $1,891,820 in sales tax revenue next fiscal year, which Whitson said is an optimistic increase of 2.99 percent over the current year’s projected budget.
The county is also anticipating permit and fee revenues in the amount of $297,636, which is down 7.95 percent from the current budget. Other projected revenues, including interest, grants and the sale of assets, are estimated at $107,890, which is almost half of the current budget.
“This is a safe, realistic budget,” Whitson told commissioners. “It is not overly optimistic and it keeps Polk County in a position to weather future problems from the economic downturn. The employees of Polk County are committed to make this proposed budget work for the citizens of Polk County.”
The county plans to hold the public hearing on the proposed budget on June 13 and adopt the budget on June 20.

2011-12 recommended general fund budget
General fund        2010-11         2011-12
revenues               amended    recommended
Ad valorem taxes    $14,152,245    $13,954,059
Sales tax    $1,836,938    $1,891,820
Intergovernmental    $3.889,576    $3,602,989
Permits and fees    $323,336    $297,636
Sales and services    $920,846    $942,781
Other    $205,069                   $107,890
Fund balance    $2,109,083    $0
Total:    $23,437,093    $20,797,175
General government    $2,473,007    $2,432,546
Public safety    $4,343,867    $4,002,674
Human services    $4,987,590    $4,835,377
Economic development    $697,120    $740,187
Culture/recreation    $1,324,897    $1,343,445
Education    $4,770,610    $4,979,611
Debt service    $4,069,243    $1,705,329
Transfer to other funds    $765,773    $558,006
Contingency     $4,986    $200,000
Total:    $23,437,093    $20,797,175

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