No tax hike in Bertie County

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 24, 2005

WINDSOR – Zee Lamb has his orders.

During last week’s Bertie Board of Commissioners meeting, Lamb, the County Manager, was instructed by his governing body to toe the line on the upcoming 2005-06 budget.

Included in the Board’s instructions was a zero increase in property taxes, no user fee hikes for the county’s rural water system or any other enhancements to county-controlled fees.

&uot;The Commissioners made it very clear that they did not want to see any increase in county taxes or any other type of fees applied by county government,&uot; Lamb said.

Lamb added he could easily follow those orders due to the county’s present financial shape.

&uot;We’ve been able to gradually increase our fund balance over the years, which enables us to appropriate a portion of that money in lieu of raising property taxes,&uot; he noted. &uot;Plus we’ve been fortunate in collecting taxes, both present and past amounts owned to the county.&uot;

Documentation provided to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald backed-up Lamb’s assessment on tax collection rates.

According to the most recent data available, Bertie’s collection rate stands at 94.20 percent, the highest it has been since 1986-87 (94.54 percent). It had fell as low as 88.59 percent in 1999-2000, but has been on a steady climb since that time.

The data also revealed Bertie’s most recent uncollected balance (as of June 30, 2004) stands at less than $1 million ($971,037.00) for the first time since 1995. That figure stood at $879,526.00 on June 30, 1995 and then began a steady ascent to as high as $1.33 million in 2000.

Meanwhile, Bertie’s ad valoreum tax rate will remain at 78 cents per $100 of value. There has not been a property tax rate hike in Bertie County since 2001. Ditto for the county’s rural water system fees. They will remain at $17 for the first 2,000 gallons of usage, the same as in 2001.

&uot;We were even able to hold the line on building inspection fees despite investing in the salary of another (building) inspector,&uot; Lamb stressed. &uot;That department is self-supporting.&uot;