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Commissioners adopt budget, tax rate

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wise County commissioners Tuesday adopted a $66.5 million county budget for fiscal year 2013-2014.

The spending plan reflects a slight increase over last year’s $66.4 million, but taxes will not increase. It will be supported by the same rate as last year – 37.89 cents per $100 property valuation.

The general fund has $32.6 million and $574,786 in cash reserves.

The road and bridge reserves, which includes the thoroughfare fund and leftover road money from each precinct, will have $1.9 million.

Increases to this year’s budget include raises for elected officials and a 3-percent increase in wages for every department, as outlined in an Aug. 10 Messenger story, “Elected officials get raises.”

Commissioners, who also gave themselves raises, have all said they will refuse their own increase and donate that back to the county.

A part-time position at the county fire marshal/emergency management office will be changed to a full-time post, as was discussed earlier this year. The fiscal year 2014 budget also includes $876,800 to be split between county fire departments, which is the same as last year.

The county was reimbursed $498,000 in grant money for expenses related to the new radio system, and that money was moved back to the general fund.

Commissioners also agreed to give $15,000 to the animal shelter for drugs and medicine, which will allow for the vaccination of adoptable animals as soon as they enter the shelter. They did insist that the shelter raise its adoption fees to cover that cost, though.

Sheriff David Walker said Tuesday that the adoption fee will be raised from $25 to $30.

Outside agencies that were given slight increases included Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Wise County Committee on Aging and Soil Conservation Service. CASA will get an additional $4,000, Committee on Aging will see another $7,200 and Soil Conservation has an additional $2,500 coming in fiscal year 2014.

Auditor Ann McCuiston said Tuesday afternoon that several decreases in payroll, including a significant drop in insurance costs, helped cover the increases without raising taxes.

Requests made by department heads, but denied, at a recent budget workshop included:

  • an additional full-time position at the tax assessor/collector office;
  • making a part-time job at the Extension office a full-time post;
  • an additional patrol officer for the sheriff’s office
  • an additional full-time post in the Criminal Investigations Division at the sheriff’s office;
  • making a part-time animal control job a full-time position; and
  • a part-time mechanic for the sheriff’s office.

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