The county commission approved a slight rollback reduction in the millage rate on Thursday as Chairman Steve Brown praised staff for their efforts to “cut and economize” within the budget and demonstrate a “disciplined approach.”
The rollback reduced the General Fund millage rate from 5.714 to 5.602, a reduction of just under two percent. The other funds remained at the same millage rates — Fire Services at 3.07 mills, EMS Services at 0.456 mills, and E-911 services at 0.210 mills.
Mary Parrott, Chief Financial Officer for the county, said property values went up 2.2 percent this year. This was the first positive reassessment the county has seen since 2007, she said.
Each year millage rate “rollback” adjustments are made which allow for a government to bring in the same overall property tax revenue as the prior year. Since assessments increased this year, the rollback called for the slight decrease, which the commission approved.
Parrott said county property values were “really hit hard” between 2010 and 2012. She said the taxable digest was at its highest point in 2009 and is still around $1 billion less than it was then.
Chairman Steve Brown noted that he and Commissioner Allen McCarty came onto the board four years ago when the county’s financial “picture was not nearly as rosey as it is today.” He pointed to this year’s improvement in the county’s bond rating to AAA as something he could not have imagined happening four years ago.
“On top of that we do a millage rollback and then on top of that we’ve been able to give incentive pay increases to our staff. In the period of time I’ve been here it has been a phenomenal roll,” Brown said. “I just give you all tons of praise,” he said to county staff.
Commissioner David Barlow added to the praise, saying the county now has “true leadership from the top down.”
County Administrator Steve Rapson said “the reason we’re where we are today is because of the tough decisions this board made.”
Rapson also credited the cooperation of department heads across various departments.
“Last year was an extremely encouraging team effort,” he said of the budget process.