During a preliminary budget meeting held Wednesday, May 1, nearly two dozen faculty members from Moore County schools listened as the Metro Budget Committee hashed out ways to erase what was originally thought to be a shortfall close to $500,000 in the school budget.
While the deficit isn’t likely to be that much by the time the budget goes before the Metro Lynchburg Moore County Council on May 20, the Metro Budget Committee moved to make a slight increase in land taxes in order to offset any shortcomings the school system is experiencing.
It was not unanimous, but the committee has voted, for now, to increase the property tax rate by $.10, which will make the rate go from $2.33 per $100 to $2.43 per $100.
“This is just a committee to get it to the (full) council,” said Metro Moore County Mayor Sloan Stewart, adding that the budget committee is scheduled to meet again at 4:30 p.m. this Wednesday, May 8.
State law establishes the assessment ratio for different classes of property. Residential and farm is at 25 percent of appraised value, while commercial/industrial is at 40 percent of appraised value.
Last year, a piece of residential or farm property that appraised for $100,000 would’ve been assessed $583 in taxes. If the new budget makes it through its first and second readings without a hiccup, that same $100,000 parcel of land will be assessed $608 this year — a meager $25 per year.
To figure land taxes at the current rate, take 25 percent of its appraised value; divide by 100; and multiply by 2.33.
At the center of the tax increase is the school budget. Chad Moorehead, Moore County’s Director of Schools, has been wrestling with the school budget for several months.
“It started out, when I was first putting the budget together at (a) $500,000 (deficit),” Moorehead said. “The number got down to about $400,000 we’re gonna be short. It would take (a) .$20 (tax increase) to fund what we have in the budget now. I expect it to be lower than that when we get all the revenues in for the current year.”
According to Moorehead, one of the primary reasons for the shortfall is an increase in medical insurance.
“We started Jan. 1 … that’s our plan year for insurance … on Jan. 1 they increased it by 9.2 percent. Next Jan. 1 they will increase it another 8.8 percent,” he said.
Moorehead was expected to meet with the school board on Tuesday to look at possible alternatives, one of those could include a personnel cut.
For more, see the May 8 edition of The Moore County News. To subscribe to The News, click HERE
By ROBERT HOLMAN, MCN Editor (Robert Holman is the Editor and Publisher of The Moore County News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)