Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reporter Reports Boone County Commissioners Postpone CCD Tax Increase Vote

From the Lebanon Reporter:

A decision to approve an increase of “pennies” in Boone County’s cumulative capital development fund was tabled by the Boone County Commissioners Monday, and will now be heard at a special meeting beginning at 9 a.m. June 24.

Commissioner Marc Applegate suggested the delay, so the commissioners could review information provided by Aaron Smith, Lebanon, who said he projected the county would have more than $9.4 million in cash and investments, in six separate funds, as of June 30.

One of those accounts, the CCD investment fund, contained more than $611,000, Smith said, an ample amount for the county to pay for renovations at the former Elks Lodge, 220 W. Washington St., Lebanon for a new county office annex.

If the commissioners approve the CCD increase, Smith said, he’ll launch a petition drive asking that it be rejected by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.

Councilwoman Marcia Wilhoite said the county will face an operating deficit of nearly $700,000, and needs to raise money to maintain its buildings. The present CCD rate generates just over $431,000 a year, she said.

“We’re either going to have to borrow some money, or take money out of some other fund,” Wilhoite said. “We have an aging jail that needs some updating. We have a telephone system in the works in the next three or four years, as well as the normal expenses on all the other buildings.”

Boone’s roads are deteriorating and need to be maintained, she said. While historically, the county council has funded the road program from the economic development fund, “that will be exhausted in 2016,” she said.

A lease payment for heating and air conditioning equipment eats up nearly half of what the CCD now generates, Wilhoite said.

Cash balances should not be considered as the total money available for operating local government, County Councilman Gene Thompson said. It would, he said, be the equivalent of looking at a checking account the day a paycheck is deposited — and ignoring the need to pay bills from that account.

The proposed increase is not only modest, it’s necessary, Thompson said.

Only 10 percent of property tax revenues collected in Boone County go for county government, Thompson said. “The rest of it is going to cities, towns and libraries,” he said. “When there’s a discussion about property taxes increasing, it’s important the county government segregates itself.”
The CCD tax rate is only 6 percent of the county’s total tax rate, Thompson said.

The rate has fallen from 2.93 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 1.25 cents this year, Thompson said.

“You’re talking about raising the rate to three and a third pennies,” he said.

Raising the CCD levy to the state-allowed 3.33 cents per $100 assessed valuation is a 166 percent increase, but, because “it’s applied to a very small number,” Thompson said, it is not an “outrageous” increase.