Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON – Marshall County property owners may see their tax bills arriving later than usual.
The court recently approved to keep its base tax rate at 10 cents. A difference over one of the county special taxing districts has held up the approval of rates for Marshall County residents.
Marshall County’s special taxing districts include fire protection districts, the library district and the refuse district. The ad valorem taxes generate the bulk of funds set aside to provide county services within individual departments, from fire departments to the refuse center.
At odds is the Marshall County Board of Health’s proposed tax rate of 8 cents per $100. Commissioner Misti Drew said she had attended the last health board meeting and asked that the rate be lowered.
“It was initially increased in the 2003 time frame to raise enough money to build the new facility,” Drew said. “With $5 million still in the bank, I believe they’ve done that. Considering the current economy, I would ask they consider reducing that since the have met their goal.”
Construction of the new 24,000 square-foot facility is being made possible through the use of grants and funds generated from the tax. A $3.7 million dollar construction contract with Cleaver construction of Murray was approved last fall. The project has encountered some unexpected costs along the way, such as nearly $75,000 in dirt work to remove trees buried along U.S. Hwy. 641 on the site of the new building.
The board of health had previously agreed to keep the tax rate at 8 cents. According to Judge Executive Mike Miller, the board had hoped to begin decreasing the rate next year after it could better assess operating expenses in the new facility and following any more unexpected constructions costs.
“[The board] did talk about leaving the tax rate the same this year to finish out the building and see what their utilities are going to be,” Miller said. “You cannot vote to say you’re going to lower a tax next year. It’s not proper, nor is it legal. But I think it was the consensus of the board that beginning next year they want to start backing the rate down.”
At the Aug. 16 meeting of the Marshall County Fiscal Court, commissioner Bob Gold motioned to accept the tax rates. The motion died for a lack of a second.
Miller said he would bring up the issue with the court at a future meeting, but that tax bills can’t be sent out until tax rates are set.
“I’d like to print our tax bills,” Miller said. “We’ve made cut after cut to our budget, but we can’t send our tax bills out.”
The current health department is housed in a former grocery store building constructed in 1964 that was converted to its present use in the 1980s. It consists of 11,000 square-feet in the main building, as well as additional outside buildings. The new building will allow the health department to consolidate services into one building, as well as expand capabilities. The current facility provides more than 70,000 services per year.