Fayette County adopts $73.4 million budget, 1.4% less than this year's

There will be no increase in county property tax rates this year, thanks to the Fayette County Commission adopting another $1 million in budget cuts.

The $73.4 million budget did take a brief hit from local resident Tom Waller, the only person to speak during Thursday night’s public hearing. Waller said he wanted the county to fully fund a position in the county’s Extension Service that interacts with the Fayette County Master Gardner Program.

County Manager Jack Krakeel said the austere budget has called for tough decisions to be made and that includes cuts to the Extension Service efforts. The hope is that once the economy turns around that the position can be re-funded, Krakeel said.

The county is losing an estimated $2 million in property tax revenue due to declining property values in the coming fiscal year budget. The total budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year is $73.4 million.

The budget is 1.4 percent less than the adopted budget for the current fiscal year.

Again this year the county will get by without any new staff positions or promotions. Last year the county eliminated 21.5 full-time equivalent full-time positions as a cost-saving measure, and it was noted at the time that county employees were bearing the burden of an increased workload to compensate for the lack of staffing.

In the proposed budget, another eight full-time equivalent positions have been eliminated through attrition, according to county staff.

Fayette’s property tax digest took a 7.9 percent tumble due in large part to the economy. Property taxes account for 61 percent of the county’s total revenues in the proposed budget.

Sales taxes, which comprise about 21 percent of the budget, have also dropped significantly, from $10.7 million in 2008 to an estimated $9.3 million this budget year, staff reported.
County staff is proposing to use $545,000 in cash reserves to balance the 2010-2011 budget.

Next year the county is expecting to take an even larger property tax hit as commercial properties stand to be devalued significantly, County Manager Jack Krakeel has told the commission.