Sunday, January 20, 2013

York County residents brace for another tax increase

By Amanda Kerr, | 757-247-47334:46 p.m. EST, January 12, 2013
YORK — York County residents may need to brace for another increase in the real estate tax rate based on preliminary 2014 budget scenarios discussed during a York County Board of Supervisors retreat Saturday.
York County Administrator James McReynolds said revenue projections for 2014 look positive for the county, with an estimated $1.67 million in new revenue expected. But possible new expenditures totaling $3.8 million would create a funding gap of $2.12 million, he said.
York County's current 2013 operating budget is $127.2 million, up $4 million from the previous year's budget.

    Other new expenditures would include an estimated $700,000 increase in health insurance costs, $600,000 in additional funding for capital costs and other county expenses and $500,000 associated with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
    One penny on the real estate tax rate equals $875,000. The real estate tax rate would have to be increased by 2.4 cents to close the $2.12 million gap.
    York County school officials are projecting an estimated $2.9 million 2014 budget funding gap, which includes a 2 percent raise for employees. Several School Board members have said they support asking the county for a $2.9 million increase in funding to the school division.
    McReynolds said if the supervisors wanted to provide the school division with an additional $875,000 on top of the money for the 1.5 percent raise, increasing schools funding by $2.22 million, that would create a funding gap of $3 million. To close that gap, he said the countywould need to raise the tax rate by 3.4 cents.
    If the supervisors wanted to give the school division a total of $3.1 million in new funding, including money for the raises, that would create a funding gap for the county of $3.87 million. McReynolds said the tax rate would need to be raised 4.4 cents.
    Board of Supervisors Chairman Walt Zaremba was concerned about increasing the real estate tax rate in the 2014 budget since supervisors just handed down an 8.4-cent rate increase in the 2013 budget. The tax rate is currently 74.15 cents per $100 of assessed value. He asked to see a budget proposal that closes any funding gap with expenditure cuts only.
    Supervisor Don Wiggins felt it was not useful to see a budget with just expenditure cuts because many of them are not realistic, alluding to proposed cuts of 24 firefighters and deputies in the 2013 budget that the supervisors did not approve.
    Supervisor Tom Shepperd supported providing county employees with a raise. He didn't think there was much left the county could cut without affecting services to citizens.
    The supervisors will hold a joint budget work session with the School Board on Feb. 5.McReynolds will release his proposed 2014 budget March 19.