Taxes will go down for most property owners under Fulton County’s $85.2 million budget for 2014.
The county’s Board of Supervisors on Monday approved the spending plan, which cuts the average countywide tax rate by $0.74 per $1,000 of assessed value, according to county Budget Director Alice Kuntzsch.
The budget calls for collecting $27,338,407 in property taxes while making use of about $6,223,800 in reserves and fund balance.
County taxes will vary by municipality, but the average countywide tax rate will drop to $10.99 per $1,000, a reduction of about 6.7 percent from this year’s average of $11.73.
The greatest reduction will be seen in the town of Stratford, which conducted a recent revaluation of properties, Kuntzsch said. The rate there will go from $14.84 per $1,000 to $8.70.
The only tax hike will be in Ephratah, from $10.93 per $1,000 to $11.37, she said.
The spending plan will leave approximately $11.2 million in fund balance available during 2014, according to county Treasurer E. Terry Blodgett.
The approved budget reflects a marked reduction from initial requests by department heads which, if unchanged, projected a tax levy increase of more than 22 percent, according to the tentative budget.
Blodgett said the state Comptroller’s Office guidelines suggest a fund balance be maintained at 15 percent to 20 percent of the budget, and the 2014 budget approved Monday will leave the fund balance at 15 percent.
“They’ve been very, very conservative, and they’re following those guidelines,” Blodgett said of county supervisors. “In these times, you have to be very conservative, and they’ve done a great job doing that.”
He described the use of about $6 million in fund balance as “basically giving back to the taxpayers what we’ve taken in taxes.”
County board Chairman William Waldron said a tax cut is a positive sign in a county striving to improve its economic climate.
The county is focusing on redevelopment of the former Tryon youth detention facility, which was shut down by the state two years ago, and seeking cooperation between Johnstown and the Montgomery County town of Mohawk toward developing a business park, he said.
“Fulton County is really on a path to try to encourage businesses to move in here. It’s a reduction in the taxes, and hopefully, it might help spur some interest in our county,” Waldron said.