Caldwell County taxes remain unchanged

Jun. 17, 2014 @ 10:22 AM

Caldwell County increase its spending in fiscal 2014-15 by roughly $6 million but the property tax rate will remain unchanged at 60 cents for every $100 worth of value, under the budget that the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners approved Monday.

Water rates will increase by 46 cents, to $22.35 for every 4,000 gallons of water.

Commissioner Jeff Branch was the sole vote against the budget. He called $80,499.50 for two new positions at the county’s communications center and a $74,500 increase for the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission a waste of taxpayer money.

The budget calls for hiring four new workers for the communications center, but Branch said the county’s information technology director told the board that only two were needed. “I trust my directors,” he said.

He said he also wasn’t happy with the EDC, which he said uses county money as a “play fund” to lure companies, even though any money the EDC proposes for business incentives must be approved by the commissioners.

Commissioner Clay Bollinger said that the increase of EDC funds will be used for new initiatives like a retail study.

The 2014-15 budget calls for a total of just over $74 million in spending, up from roughly $68 million last year, though only about $1.5 million of the increase will come from local tax revenue, county finance officer Tony Helton explained.

Some of the increase stems from $468,665 in new personnel, $300,000 for a cost-of-living adjustment raise for county employees, $1,704,807 in new equipment and vehicles, $20,000 to Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, and $50,000 to Caldwell County Public Schools.

After a June 3 meeting further honed the budget, four sheriff’s deputies plus equipment and patrol cars were added, for $375,446, the five ambulances the original budget called for were reduced to three, at $200,000 apiece. Four new staff were added at the communications center for a cost of $160,999, and a new, part-time veterans services position for $14,530.

More than $3 million of the increase is attributed to “flow-through” funds, or money that is given to the county, which then administers it, including state and federal money for the Department of Social Services. The budget also includes an increase of $817,000 for housing inmates in other counties.