Fayette County to save $2M in 2 years by adding new 9-1-1 tax
Starting this fall, all property owners in Fayette County may be paying a brand new property tax to help fund operations of the county’s 911 center.
The proposed 911 millage rate, recommended by county staff, is two-tenths of a mill, which will equate to an additional $19 a year for a home with a fair market value of $250,000.
The tax would be assessed on every home in Fayette County, including its cities, as they are all served by the county’s consolidated 911 center.
The proposal has not been approved yet by any local government agency, as it was finalized in a meeting with the various agencies’ managers Friday, Fayette County Manager Jack Krakeel told the County Commission at its budget workshop Monday morning.
Currently the 911 center’s operations budget is funded on a per-capita basis by each individual municipality and the county. Funding is also realized from a $1 per line fee assessed to each cellular and landline phone in the county, officials said.
The proposed tax is the result of negotiations started by the municipalities, which wanted to ditch the current per-capita funding for the 911 center. The central dispatching office serves every public safety agency in the county, including all the cities.
Under the proposal, the county and municipalities will continue funding 911 center operations on a per-capita basis for two more years, transitioning to the new property tax revenues thereafter.
For the first two years of the new 911 property tax, the revenues will be used to pay off the capital improvements that heretofore have been funded exclusively by the county government.
Once the new property tax hits its third year, the tax funds will go toward 911 center operations, allowing the county and cities to keep more money in their general fund each year forward.
The county will continue to use revenue from the $1 phone bill surcharges even after the property tax is implemented.
Because the first two years of the tax will pay off the capital expenses that have been fronted by the county, it means the county ultimately will realize a $2 million savings the next two budget years since it would no longer be funding the remaining capital payments.
County staff is not recommending to roll back the general fund property tax millage rate, as those savings are being used to cover budget increases, said County Manager Krakeel.
Krakeel is not recommending an increase in the millage rate for the general fund. Because the property tax values are taking a dip again this year, that means the county will be losing about $2 million in revenue.
Once the first two years of collections are over, the county will be in a position to lower the property tax since it will be able to increase the per-line fee to $1.50 for all cellular phone lines in the county, Krakeel said. The fee could rise thanks to a new capability the 911 center will have in geographically pinpointing cellphone users who call 911.