Columbus leaders cut proposed tax hike

Published 8:00 am Saturday, June 2, 2018

COLUMBUS — The Columbus Town Council decided during a recent budget work session to increase the property tax rate next year by only 2 cents, instead of the previously proposed 5-cent raise.

Columbus Town Manager Tim Barth said on Friday that council members cut some expenses to reduce the previously suggested tax rate increase.

“They didn’t cut any programs, they just cut some line items here and there, and we just tightened the belt basically, as much as possible,” Barth said.

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The new tax rate increase will mean the town will receive approximately $23,000 more in revenue next year. With the 5-cent tax increase, Columbus was looking at approximately $58,000 more in tax revenue.

The town is still looking to increase water and sewer rates by 5 percent, which will mean $2.25 more a month for a minimum-use bill.

“Anything over 3,000 gallons per month will be a little more,” Barth said. “Columbus still has the lowest water and sewer rates in the county.”

Columbus plans to hire an additional police officer, so two officers can be on duty at all times.

The town also plans to pay for a salary survey next fiscal year, at an estimated cost of $40,465.

The cost of the study will be $7,500, with the remainder to be used to make changes to employee pay recommended from the study and approved by town council.

Columbus is currently looking for another fuel provider for vehicles as it currently gets gasoline at a reduced rate from the former school bus garage. The school system is going to diesel, so fuel prices will soon increase for the town.

The town’s property tax rate is proposed to increase from the current 42.46 cents per $100 of property valuation to 44.46 cents.

On a $100,000 house, the 2-cent property tax increase will mean an additional $20 per year.

This is the first tax increase Columbus has proposed since 2005.

The town also expects an additional 4.5 percent increase in sales tax revenue next fiscal year. The town expects to receive a total of $252,000 this fiscal year in sales tax, and is expecting to receive $264,000 next fiscal year, with projected growth from the World Equestrian Games.

The town’s new fiscal year begins July 1, with the new budget requiring approval by June 30.

Council has scheduled a budget public hearing at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, and is expected to approve the new budget following the public hearing.