Candidates for county commissioner talk tax rate, budget

Apr. 29, 2014 @ 11:22 AM

The News-Topic sent each of the candidates for Caldwell County Board of Commissioners the same set of questions. Over the last week, we have run their answers, concluding with this final question. Individual responses have been edited because of space limitations, but full answers are posted at www.newstopic.net.

What is your stance on the county’s tax rate and budget?

Chris Barlowe, incumbent: "As your commissioner, I strongly supported reducing the property tax rate to 60 cents last year. In fact, the tax rate is now almost 10 percent lower than when I took office.

“Getting our tax rate down has made us competitive with our neighboring counties, and I will continue to advocate keeping taxes as low as possible. We can guarantee lower tax rates is by growing our tax base, something we see happening with businesses coming to Caldwell County and putting previously vacant buildings back to use.

“I remain committed to keeping spending in check while also supporting the funding of vital elements that maintain our strong quality of life. Shortchanging law enforcement or emergency services is not in anyone’s interest, especially when that life on the line could be yours or your loved one’s.

“Since becoming a commissioner in December 2010, I also have been a strong supporter of the county finance office’s debt refinancing that already has saved taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

“As your public servant, I humbly ask for your continued support in keeping property taxes and the budget in check. After all, it’s your money.”

Ben Griffin: “While I was commissioner, we were able to reduce the budget $12 million per year, and we reduced the tax rate 3 cents (4.5 percent) the fourth year I was in office. The commissioners are responsible for the financial oversight of the health department, social services, the sheriff’s department, the library, EMS, and partial funding of the schools and college. Commissioners must be responsible to provide the proper amount of services to our citizens and to do this effectively without wasting money and raising taxes. A commissioner must be a leader. I have proven to be that leader as a commissioner, and I ask for your vote.”

Mike LaBrose, incumbent: “When I came into office the tax rate was 65.99 and now it is 60.00, with a revaluation in 2013. I do believe our tax rate is fair, and because of our strategic use of the taxpayer dollars, the county is good financial shape and is prepared for growth in the next four years. Our budget has been consistent and will only grow as our revenues grow. We must start with short and long term planning so that we do not experience any surprises in the future. We cannot predict the future, but we can prepare, plan, and continue to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollar.”

Donnie Potter: “We have to manage our budget conservatively. We cannot over spend on things that we don’t need but we have to make sure that we are providing quality services and not jeopardizing your family’s safety and well-being. With the proper planning and budget management we can maintain a reasonable tax rate and take our county well into the future.”