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At stake: $260,000 property tax increase

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By Ben Carlson

County taxpayers will shell out $260,000 more in taxes if two measures are approved Thursday by the Anderson County Fiscal Court.

The fiscal court is scheduled to discuss two tax issues during the meeting, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the judge-executive's chambers on Main Street.

The first will be to set the county's tax rate; the second whether to grant taxing authority to the county's Extension District.

Last month, the fiscal court heard on first reading an ordinance to grant taxing authority to the Extension, and penciled in a rate of 1.6 cents per $100 assessed property value. That means the tax bill would increase $16 on a home valued at $100,000.

That rate would generate about $210,000 in revenue for the Extension, more than double what it currently receives directly from the fiscal court.

The fiscal court will also set the county's property tax rate, and will likely decide between what is called the compensating rate or a 4 percent increase.

The compensating rate is the rate that produces revenue approximately equal to revenue produced in the previous year from real property taxes.

Using the compensating rate, the current rate of 11.1 cents per $100 assessed value would increase to 11.2 cents, meaning the tax bill on a home assessed at $100,000 would increase from $1,110 to $1,120, a $10 increase.

If the fiscal court decides to take a full 4 percent increase as was done last year, the rate would increase to 11.6 cents per $100 assessed value, and the tax bill on a home assessed at $100,000 would increase from $1,110 to $1,160, a $50 increase.

The compensating rate would provide $1.413 million in revenue for the county. The 4 percent increase would provide $1.464 million, a $50,000 increase.

If the Extension rate and the 4 percent increase are approved, the tax bill on a home assessed at $100,000 would increase $66.

The fiscal court can take the compensating rate without holding a public hearing.

A public hearing would be required to take the 4 percent increase, the maximum allowed by state law without the rate being subjected to a possible recall.

The Extension District currently does not have taxing authority, and is scheduled to receive about $100,000 in funding from the fiscal court.

If given taxing powers, the Extension would then be forced to pay rent on its 4,000 square feet of office space in the Anthony D. Stratton building in the county park.

Last month, magistrates debated a per-square-foot rate, settling on $10, which would provide $40,000 in revenue to the fiscal court.

From that amount, the fiscal court would pay the building's utilities, which average about $15,000 a year, leaving about $25,000 per year in additional revenue the fiscal court does not already receive.

When combined with the $100,000 it will no longer give the Extension, the fiscal court comes out ahead about $125,000.

Magistrates last month discussed how to use that money, including the possibility of using it to retire park debt.