ASHE COUNTY —In a 3-2 vote, the Ashe County Board of Commissioners approved the 2015-16 fiscal year budget including an increase to property taxes in the county.
Final decisions were made to the proposed budget during a special work session held June 2-4.
The current property tax rate in Ashe County is 40 cents per $100 valuation and will increase to 43.3 cents per $100 property valuation for the 2015-16 year.
Ashe County’s property tax rate had previously remained unchanged since fiscal year 2011-12.
On Monday, May 18, County Manger Sam Yearick presented and explained the proposed 2015-16 budget which originally stated property tax would increase to $.445 per $100 valuation.
According to Yearick, the basis for the tax increase is due in part to the county’s property reevaluation in fiscal year 2014-15, in which the tax base decreased from $4.155 billion to $3.88 billion – a decrease of $275 million.
This means that because of the decrease in property values, the county will collect approximately the same amount of taxes as they did in previous years even with the increased tax rate.
Commissioner Jeff Rose and BOC Chairman Gary Roark both voted in opposition of the budget.
During commissioner comments Roark explained that he voted against the budget because he did not agree with the $600 pay increase for County employees.
Roark said he would have liked those funds to have been used towards the planned fire training facility in Ashe County.
“I feel we could have been more conservative and set this money aside for that training center,” Roark said.
Ashe County Fireman’s Association President Leonard Houck recently came before the board on Monday, May 4 to formally request the $340,000 facility.
The board took no action at the time but planned to discuss the details of the facility during their budget meeting.
Roark said that the average working citizen living in Ashe County makes around $20,000 per year compared to county employee salaries that range between $30,000 and $40,000.
“Most of the County employees I talked with are just happy to have a job,” Roark said. “We need to consider these people out here who are working, getting up at three or four in the morning and earning $8 or $10 an hour and then our average county employees earn somewhere around $24 an hour,” Roark said. “There’s not a balance throughout the county.”
General Fund – $34,555,009
Court Facilities Fees Fund – $60,000
4-H Program Activities Fund – $660,748
4-H Afterschool Fund – $8,775
Enterprise Fund – $2,638,550
Capital Projects Fund for County Buildings – $200,000
Capital Projects Fund for School Construction – $839,394
Capital Projects Fund for Landfill Construction – $100,000
E911 Special Revenue Fund – $464,591
Economic Development Reserve Fund – $259,428
Register of Deeds Automation Fund – $31,000
Total budget for 2015-16 – $39,817,495
Other BOC business
•In a 5-0 vote, the BOC approved a resolution for the exchange of property between Ashe County and Roger Wyatt.
• In a 5-0 vote, the BOC approved a resolution to support the extension of the New River Valley Scenic Byway on the N.C. HWY 88 and N.C. HWY 194 intersection in West Jefferson continuing through Lansing onto South Big Horse Creek Road to the Virginia state line.
•Animal Control Director Joe Testerman appeared before the board to discuss animal control fees for animal adoption.
•In a 5-0 vote, the BOC approved to increase communication tower application fees from $1,500 to $2,000.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.