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The Anderson County Extension Service is one step closer to being able to collect property taxes.
During its meeting Tuesday night, the Anderson County Fiscal Court allowed a first reading of an ordinance that would give taxing authority to the extension service.
Although the rates could change during a required second reading of the ordinance, magistrates proposed a tax rate that means property owners will pay an additional tax of $16 per $100,000 of assessed value.
If approved on a second reading, the tax would begin Jan. 1, 2009, and appear on that year's property tax bills. That rate would provide about $210,000 in funding for the extension.
The meeting was held in the judge-executive's chambers. Absent were Judge-Executive Steve Cornish and Magistrate Juretta Wells. Magistrate John Wayne Conway was elected by his fellow magistrates to serve as judge-executive for the meeting.
Currently, the fiscal court provides about $100,000 each year to the extension service.
Along with the tax rate the extension will charge, at issue is how much rent it will pay the county for using 4,000 square feet of the building.
Several amounts have been discussed, but it appeared Monday that the fiscal court is considering $10 per square foot, and the fiscal court would pay the agency's utilities from that amount. Several magistrates expressed concern over the per-square-foot rate because of the impact it will have on taxpayers.
"If we can keep it down, it's to the taxpayers' advantage," said Magistrate Forest Dale Stevens, who, along with Conway, has been a driving force behind granting the extension taxing authority.
Because the rent revenue would be additional funds the court doesn't currently receive, Magistrate Jason Denny insisted that whatever is received be used to help retire the debt on the park.
Conway said his goal is to eliminate fiscal court funding for the extension and prevent future attempts to cut its funding at the county level, as was done earlier this year when Cornish proposed a budget that sliced $30,000 from the extension's budget.
The extension service assists an estimated 11,000 of the county's 20,000 residents on an annual basis, extension officials said.
Magistrates also emphasized that the fiscal court will retain authority over the tax rate proposed each year by the extension service, and will retain the right to abolish its ability to tax should it choose to do so.
Other separate taxing districts in Anderson County include the library and county fire department, neither of which falls under direct authority of the county government.