Commissioners considering tax break for property owners

Lazaro Aleman
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Indications are that the county’s budget is in pretty good shape this year. So much so, in fact, that Indications are that the county’s budget is in pretty good shape this year. So much so, in fact, that commissioners are contemplating reducing the millage rate and giving property owners a tax break. “We’re in pretty good shape on the budget,” Clerk of Court Kirk Reams told the Jefferson County Commission at a budget workshop recently. Others also talked of a significantly large reserve fund, which apparently has been growing in recent years. Commissioners talked of dropping the millage rate to 7.99 mills from the current 8.31 mills, but stopped just short of committing to the reduction. They said they wanted a little more time to think about it. The reason that commissioners put off the decision is that once set and advertised, the millage rate can be further lowered, but it cannot be raised. Too, the Sheriff had yet to submit his budget request at the time, and the board didn’t want to commit to a rate reduction without knowing what exactly was facing the county in terms of total expenditures. Even so, at the instigation of Commissioner Betsy Barfield and without much discussion, the board agreed to dedicate $50,000 to the recreation department for upgrades of the park on Mamie Scott Road. Barfield said she had visited the park recently and it was in a pitiful state. She talked of falling fences, bathroom doors that didn’t close, and overall general disrepair. “The recreation park is pitiful,” Barfield said. “Let’s buck up and spend some money on it. We’ve got some extra money now so let’s do some good with it.” Barfield said she didn’t want to wait for the county to secure a grant to do the work. The grant could be pursued later, she said. But she thought the park needed the repairs now. The children deserved it, she said. “Let’s take some pride in our parks,” Barfield urged her colleagues. Barfield’s enthusiasm carried the day. She canvassed her fellow commissioners and, with the exception of Commissioner Gene Hall who had to leave the meeting earlier, all expressed support for the idea. “Let’s do it then,” Barfield said.