At judge’s urging, fiscal court OKs lowering property tax rate 1 full cent per $100 value

Judge-Executive Tim Hutchins, right, presents Deputy Matthew Hilliard with a certificate recognizing his work above and beyond the call of duty. Chief Deputy Brandon Bryan looks on from left.

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023 — At the request of Judge-Executive Tim Hutchins, Nelson Fiscal Court gave initial approval of a new property tax rate that is a full 1 cent per hundred dollars of value lower than the current property tax rate.

The current tax rate is 13.7 cents per hundred dollars value. The tax rate approved Tuesday by the court is 12.7 cents per hundred dollars value.

The court took the unusually rare step of setting the tax rate at a lower level than what’s known as the “compensating tax rate.”

The compensating tax rate is the rate that will generate about the same revenue as the previous year’s tax rate. It is uncommon that a government entity to set a tax rate at a rate lower than the compensating rate.

After the meeting, Judge-Executive Tim Hutchins said he had given the idea considerable thought.

“When I was elected I promised to change the culture of county government
and I’m trying to lead by example,” Hutchins said. “We’re trying to keep spending within our means. We’re making cuts and saving money where we can and proving we don’t have to have the extra money to fund county government.”

The move to lower the tax rate and not take the 4 percent revenue increase will mean the loss of up to $400,000 in revenue for the county. However, Hutchins cited the significant savings the county has experienced from more efficient operation, the significant savings from the county jail’s inmate working program and other initiatives that have reduced government operating costs.

Hutchins said those savings will minimize the impact of the lost tax revenue for the county’s General Fund.

Prior to fiscal court’s unanimous vote for the lower tax rate, Cox’s Creek resident Tom Hibbs spoke against cutting the property tax rate as a way to help fund improvements to county fire protection and law enforcement. As the population in northern Nelson County grows, so does the need for improved services, he said.

ADDITIONAL PAVING REQUESTS. Fiscal court approved adding a 0.296-foot length of Price Creek Land and 0.615-foot section of Ritchie Lane to Magistrate Keith Metcalfe’s asphalt paving list.

The court also approved $11,548 in additional money needed to pave Thompson Dones Lane. The project had been approved two years ago, but work was delayed due to lumber logging along the roadway. Now that the logging is done, the price to pave the road has increased due to the higher price for asphalt.

In other action, fiscal court:

— discussed updates to the county’s 201 Facility Plan, which established a countywide sewer district. Hutchins noted that the growth of the county and in construction of future housing depends largely on extending sewers into unserved parts of Nelson County.

Housing developments that are on sanitary sewers can have more homes per acre than those that rely on septic tanks, Hutchins noted. The county’s ability to attract business and industrial investment also depends on making sewers available to new areas of the county. No vote was taken, but Hutchins promised the court will revisit the topic soon.

— presented Distinguished Service Awards to Nelson County Deputy Sheriff Matthew Hillard and Deputy Ryan White for their extraordinary performance above and beyond the call of duty.

— Hutchins presented a Distinguished Service Award to 50th District state Rep. Candy Massaroni to honor her for her dedicated service working to stop House Bill 5 during the 2023 session of the General Assembly.

NEXT UP. Nelson Fiscal Court next meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, in the second-floor meeting room in the Old Courthouse.


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