Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON – Remaining true to its promise of lowering its tax rate, the Marshall County Board of Health is recommending a rate of 7.5 percent as its levy for the upcoming fiscal year. The board’s previous rate was 8 percent, which it carried in recent years to fund construction of the new health department.
With construction expected to be complete during the upcoming fiscal year, board chairman Mike Miller said the lowered rate would allow them adequate funds without “gutting” the budget. The board is also moving into uncharted waters as it expects reduced funding from the state.
“We know we are going to suffer some cuts,” Miller said. “We have not been able to determine from Frankfort what and how deep those cuts will be. It appears that we’re looking between a 5 to 8 percent [funding] decrease in some, if not all, of our programs.”
Miller urged the board to be ready for the cuts.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there– how much it’s going to cost for us to finish this building, how many cuts we’re going to take from the state level,” Miller said. “That’s going to determine what kinds of services we’re going to be able to deliver from the health department.”
Miller suggested lowering the rate from 8 to 7.5 cents per $100 to show the department is looking toward reductions. The board had previously agreed on the 8 percent rate to fund construction of the new Marshall County Health Department. The new building is expected to be completed later this year following nearly a year of delays due to a dispute between the contractor and architect.
Historically, the department levied a 4 percent tax, which was all that was allowable by state law. A change to the statutes allowed health departments to levy up to 10 cents per $100. Marshall County has levied 8 cents per $100 since 2004.
The 7.5 percent rate is expected to be presented to the Marshall County Fiscal Court today (May 15) for approval.