Spend fund balance and cut property tax rate

To the Editor:

Macon County commissioners can re-sponsibly reduce the property tax.

The county manager’s proposed 2014 general fund budget totals $46.6 million with no change in property tax rates. Commissioners Ron Haven and Paul Higdon have publicly proposed reducing the property tax rate in the 2014 budget by utilizing some of the county’s excess general fund balance to lower the property tax rate.

What is a fund balance? It is a savings account holding unspent taxpayer money from prior years. It’s prudent for Macon County to have a fund balance. Years ago, commissioners established a target level that has carried over to today. As of June 30, 2012, there was a fund balance of $18 million while the target was $10.7 million.

Commissioners appear divided over lowering property taxes to bring the fund balance closer to the target level. Commissioner Ronnie Beale stated in a recent article he would support a tax reduction if it didn’t affect services. The Higdon/Haven proposal does not affect the proposed 2014 budget. There would be no change in county services. It’s unclear where commissioners James Tate and Kevin Corbin stand on reducing the property tax rate.

Bringing the fund balance closer to the target would also lead to better budgeting. The excess fund balance leads to expenditures outside the approved budget, and fund balance is used to pay those costs.

Contact county commissioners if you agree the Haven/Higdon proposal is responsible before the 2014 budget is finalized.

Vic Drummond

Franklin

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