Marshall County residents had another chance to weigh in on a proposed tax hike Thursday. Back in April, the county commissioners voted to reestablish the Cumulative Capital Development Fund at its maximum rate. But the Department of Local Government Finance held a public hearing of its own Thursday, after residents appealed the decision.
While 83 residents signed the petition, only two comments were offered during Thursday’s hearing. Tim Hackett opposed the tax increase, saying the property tax burden is high enough already. “During last year’s attempt to raise the CCD, State Representative Tim Harman explained to the commissioners that there were other avenues available to them to make up any funding shortfall through reallocation from funds already existing in the county’s budgets,” Hackett said. “Apparently, the commissioners declined to explore this avenue.” While the commissioners have said more money is needed to improve roads, Hackett complained that there’s no guarantee these tax revenues would be used for that purpose.
Commissioner Kurt Garner clarified that the CCD Fund would be used for a variety of purposes and would not actually pay for road maintenance directly. Instead, it would pay for new equipment for the highway department, as well as other things like computer software. “The idea that this fund would go to road maintenance, as I stated before, that’s not accurate,” Garner said. “The idea is that it actually would shift some of the burden off of the [Motor Vehicle Highway Fund], so that we can do additional road maintenance, rather than do equipment purchases out of that.”
The proposal is to reestablish the CCD Fund at three cents per $100 of assessed valuation. County officials estimate that would amount to $5.50 a year for a typical homeowner, generating a total of $412,000 for the county.
Commissioner Kevin Overmyer said that would allow the highway department to renew its fleet. “Our intention of using this money is to take some relief off the highway funding because the age of our fleet out at our Highway is most of our vehicles are 20 to 30 years old,” he explained. “We have purchased six new trucks, and the intention of Cume Cap Development is for capital purchases.”
County Council President Judy Stone said that while she understands residents’ frustration, the extra money is needed for county officials to do their job properly. “Our property taxes, really, due to county government, have not increased exponentially,” she said. “And we are restricted by the two-percent cap on homes and three-percent cap, and the one-percent cap. We’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past few years with the property tax caps.”
It’s now up to DLGF Assessor/Auditor John Toumey to make a recommendation to the commissioner of the DLGF, Courtney Schaafsma, who’ll make the final decision.