DOBSON — Property owners in the county will have to dip a little further into their pockets next year, if the Surry County Board of Commissioners approve the county manager’s proposed budget.
Like the past three years, next year’s budget continues to decrease, but despite the decrease a three-cent tax increase is recommended, County Manager Dennis Thompson said Friday.
“The recommended budget for fiscal year 2012-2013 asks the citizens of Surry County to invest in their future, and their children’s future, by supporting a property tax increase… and sustaining the new revenue within future budgets,” Thompson said.
The last time the board of county commissioners approved a tax increase was in fiscal year 2002-2003.
Next year’s budget totals $70,166,146, down from the current budget of $72,146,838.
If passed as is by commissioners, the three-cent increase will adjust the current 58.2 cents per $1,000 in property value to 61.2 cents, a rate more comparable with neighboring localities, Thompson said.
Stokes County has a tax rate of 64 cents per $1,000. Yadkin County’s current tax rate is 69 cents, and Wilkes County’s’ tax rate is currently at 65 cents.
Currently, the tax rate generates about $414 per county citizen.
The new tax rate will generate an additional $1.49 million, and will be used as follows:
• $671, 531 — New debt payments for new and improved school facilities. The county school system has asked the board for funding help to replace roofs on several schools.
• $577,122 — Essential capital equipment for public safety and emergency services. This money includes the purchase of one new ambulance, six patrol cars, one jail transport vehicle and two animal control vehicles.
• $260,000 — Economic development projects including $60,000 for Pilot Mountain Pride’s agricultural marketing program and $200,000 for the county match for the Interstates Sewer Project.
“These important expenditure recommendations total $1,508,653,” Thompson said. “In comparison, the revenue produced by three cents on the property tax rate is $1,494,498. The proposed property tax increase will pay for the above debt obligations, equipment needs and economic development programs.”
Thompson said the county’s citizens “as a whole will benefit from new schools, reliable emergency responses and economic development.”
“It is appropriate and fair that the citizens as a whole should contribute to the payment for these public services,” he added.
In subsequent years, the additional funds will be used to fund the “highest priorities of Surry County’s citizens” as determined by the board of commissioners.
Thompson has said that he doesn’t expect the board to be happy with the budget.
“I don’t like it either,” he said. “But it’s what is required to maintain our quality of life in Surry County.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.