Pickett County commissioners voted Monday evening to pass a 74-cent property tax increase.
County resident Tony Milstead said the county had few options after studying the 2019-2020 budget proposal.
“[I’d] probably go back 15 years when we were spending more money than we were needing to, “Milstead said. “I feel very offended that our [Sheriff’s Office] had to cut their budget by about $140,000. That’s ridiculous as far as I’m concerned, but we had to pass the budget. We just had to do it.”
The 43-percent increase will raise the county’s property tax rate to approximately $2.43.
According to Pickett County’s CTAS Consultant Ben Rodgers, the county spent nearly $5.1 million during the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The county had budgeted approximately $5.7 million for that time, according to Rodgers, but only generated $4.5 million in revenue, finishing the year about $600,000 in the red.
Local resident Richard DeVries opposed the increase but acknowledged the county was in a tough situation.
“Nobody wants a tax increase. I don’t want a tax increase, but I don’t think they had a choice, they had to do it,” DeVries said. “I think they made the right decision. I don’t know what else they could’ve done, we don’t have any money. Couldn’t get a loan unless we passed the budget, and we couldn’t pass the budget unless we raised property taxes.”
The commission voted 8-3 in favor of the tax increase and 7-4 in favor of the 2019-2020 budget plan. Commissioners previously turned down the budget during last month’s meeting.