Values fall, taxes rise

Published 10:58 am Tuesday, June 27, 2017

GATESVILLE – When property values fall, taxes are sure to rise.

That’s the case for Gates County property owners.

The Gates County Commissioners have approved the local government’s FY 2017-18 operating budget, which becomes effective July 1.

A mandated revaluation of all property in the county led to a nine percent decrease in value. To offset those lower property values, the ad valorem tax rate increased by nine percent, from its current 68 cents (per $100 of value) to 76 cents.

Revaluation showed that the total estimated property values in the county (real estate and vehicles) is $860,251,071. That represents a decrease over the current year’s total property assessment ($948,845,346). 

The General Fund portion of the new budget, crafted by County Manager Natalie Rountree, stands approved at $11,752,922.

Accounting for nearly one-half of the revenue to drive the new budget is $5,765,326 of ad valorem (property) taxes. Another major source of revenue is state sales tax ($2,071,500). That pot of sales tax money includes a new stream of revenue approved by the state. Gates County gains $559,500 from that new source of revenue, but the commissioners, based on Rountree’s recommendation, are using that money to make debt service payments on the $8 million renovation project expected to begin soon at Central Middle School.

The county’s total budget for FY 2017-18 is $15,266,679. That includes $1,187,974 for the Water & Sewer Fund ($1.1 million of which is covered by customer user fees); $801,125 for the Solid Waste Fund ($767,085 are user fees); $459,500 for the School Capital Reserve Fund; and $260,000 in the Fire Protection Fund.

Expenditures from the General Fund budget include $2,708,000 in current expense funds for Gates County Public Schools. The county’s Department of Social Services will gain $1,857,532 from local taxpayers.

Other departments topping the list of expenditures are the Sheriff’s Office ($1,025,550), GITS ($525,327), Building and Grounds ($436,021), Administration and Finance ($404,927), Emergency Management ($357,180), Gates County Rescue & EMS ($353,175), Tax Department ($319,283), Recreation ($238,500), and Jail Services ($225,000).

The new budget also transfers $264,168 to a fund that will cover the cost of computer software and equipment upgrades. Additionally, it sets aside $50,000 as a transfer to the Historic Courthouse Renovation Fund.

The new budget also includes $635,287 of taxpayer money to cover the county’s current debt service payments from July 1, 2017 until June 30, 2018.

As far as user fees, the new budget increases the monthly flat rate sewer service from $15 to $20. The monthly flat rate for water customers remains at $10.

The newly approved budget reflects an ad valorem tax rate that is 12 cents higher than in 2014-15. At that time it was 64 cents (per $100 of value). Upon a request from Gates County EMS and Rescue for a $325,000 funding hike to take effect for the current budget year (2016-17), the property tax rate was increased four cents to the current 68 cents. The new budget adds eight cents to the current rate.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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