Unicoi County residents may face smaller property tax hike

Brad Hicks • Aug 7, 2013 at 10:45 AM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Commission’s Finance Committee has managed to shave several cents off the 12-cent property tax increase the county was facing for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The committee met Tuesday to review its work thus far and discuss the funding requests of Unicoi County’s non-profit organizations. When the meeting began, the county was facing a shortfall of $363,873. This figure would leave the county with no fund balance in the new fiscal year, and the county’s taxpayers with a 12-cent increase of the current property tax rate of $2.6838 per $100 on real property.

Before discussion of the non-profits got under way, more than $68,000 in anticipated revenues from the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department was budgeted. This amendment was made due to the sheriff’s department anticipating the full $89,000 from the town of Unicoi in 2013-14 for two officers to patrol the town. This is in accordance with a contract between the town of Unicoi and the sheriff’s department.

This adjustment brought the county’s projected shortfall down to $295,653.

Requested funding for the county’s nonprofit organizations was left largely the same as the 2012-13 fiscal year, though several may see increased funding in 2013-14. The South Side Volunteer Fire Department will receive $1,500 in additional funding in the upcoming fiscal year, the Limestone Cove Volunteer Fire Department will receive $750 in extra funding, and the Unicoi Volunteer Fire Department will receive an additional $500. The Unicoi Merchant’s Association will also receive $1,500 from the county in 2013-14.

These additions bring the county’s projected shortfall to $299,903. The Finance Committee has not yet met with the Unicoi County Schools System or the county’s Highway Department. Committee Chairman Loren Thomas said Tuesday’s adjustments would bring the projected property tax increase to around 9.9 cents, as each cent on the property tax rate equates to approximately $30,000.

The county’s budget must be approved by the Unicoi County Commission before becoming effective.

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