Polk budget approved

Published 8:00 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

No property tax increases; four fire department increases

COLUMBUS — Polk County property owners will see no increases in taxes next fiscal year, which begins July 1, though officials approved tax hikes for four fire departments.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met Monday and approved the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget. The county held a public hearing earlier this month, with no comments.

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The new budget includes tax increases for the fire departments of Tryon, Green Creek, Mill Spring and Saluda. Tryon’s tax rate is increasing by 4 cents,  Green Creek’s by 2 cents, Mill Spring’s by 1.5 cents and Saluda’s by 1.1 cents.

The new budget includes $23.24 million in general fund revenues and expenditures with the property tax rate remaining at 52.94 cents per $100 of property valuation.

“The one thing I’m happy about is this budget is not on the back of taxpayers,” said County Manager Marche Pittman.

He said last year’s property revaluation impacted a lot of people. Last year’s property revaluation was a decrease for many property owners throughout the county, but very high increases for a portion of the county, particularly near Tryon International Equestrian Center.

“One of my top priorities was to not impact the communities any more than we have to,” Pittman said about next year’s budget.

The county will pay for major capital expenditures out of its fund balance next year. Major expenditures include five sheriff’s office vehicles; a truck, track hoe, recycle bins, garbage cans and floor repair for the solid waste enterprise fund; three vans and computer replacements for transportation; a transport car, four pistols and vests for the jail; a new vehicle and computer replacements for community development and the expansion of the parking lot for cooperative extension.

The county will also add a new deputy for the sheriff’s office, increase as needed a position for animal control, increase part-time hours for tourism, add a full-time foster care worker and add part-time funding for the department of social services.

The county will transfer $150,000 for its Turner Shoals Dam capital reserve fund, which will bring the total saved for repairs to $1.05 million.

Polk also budgeted $95,000 for water line extensions, with approximately $50,000 of that for extension projects next year and is spending $280,000 next year for the school system’s afterschool program.

Commissioners unanimously approved the new budget Monday.