Commissioners to vote on budget

Jun. 23, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

After weeks of department workshops, the Lee County Board of Commissioners is set to vote for the upcoming year’s $63.5 million budget Monday.

The commissioners will continue their meeting from last week to vote on the budget, which goes into effect July 1, at 6 p.m. Monday at the Lee County Government Center, located at 106 Hillcrest Drive. The proposed budget includes a 72 cents per $100 valuation property tax rate, a three cent decrease from the current year.

The county staff did an exceptional job of keeping government costs down while drafting the budget, according to Lee County Commissioner Chairman Charlie Parks.

“We have been able to maintain services and keep the cost down while reducing the amount of taxes on the citizens,” he said.

There are still other items Parks said he would like to fund, but lessening the tax burden was a top priority.

“Our economy still isn’t great,” he said. “You talk to people out and around the community and they are still hurting. We still have high unemployment and we want to eliminate that.”

Lee County Commissioner Vice Chairman Kirk Smith said he plans to support the budget Monday, but would have preferred a 5 cent tax rate decrease instead of the proposed 3 cents.

“I supported a 5 cent tax cut, but I can work with three,” he said.

With state and federal mandates, the county was limited on where it could cut, but is on strong footing for next year, he said.

Other items slated for the agenda include:

* A public hearing for the creation of the seven fire districts and the accompanying resolutions to establishing the districts.

* Adoption of the 2013-2014 fire departments departments, including each department fire district tax rate.

Broadway board meets Monday

The Broadway Board of Town Commissioners will also meet Monday to finalize its budget. The 7 p.m. meeting, which will be held at the board’s meeting room at 102 E. Lake Drive, has nothing on the agenda but discussion and voting on the town’s budget, which is significantly lower than in the past due to a lost revenue through property tax revaluations and the redistribution of more than $100,000 by the Lee County Board of Commissioners.

The board had previously considered raising property taxes or laying off employees, but at its last meeting, Town Manager Bob Stevens reported that his office could probably find enough non-personnel cuts, as well as new revenue through agreements with the county, for the town’s commissioners to avoid raising taxes or cutting personnel. The commissioners received that report positively, but held off on voting until Monday’s meeting. Broadway’s commissioners held a public hearing on the town’s budget at their last meeting, but no one showed up to speak.

Herald reporter Will Doran contributed to this report.