Proposed tax hike on county agenda
by PHILLIP WILLIAMS
Upshur County Commissioners Court is scheduled to decide Friday on approving a controversial 4.21-cent increase in the county tax rate, and what is so far an $11 million budget, for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The court faces an 18-item agenda at its 9 a.m. regular semi-monthly meeting on the third floor of the county courthouse.

The proposed tax hike has come under fire from several citizens at two recent public hearings. But only one of the court’s five members, Pct. 2 Comm. Cole Hefner, voted beforehand to oppose recommending it, and while he has held firm in opposition, the court’s other members have not indicated they have changed their minds about supporting it.

It would raise the county’s tax rate from the current 47.01 cents per $100 valuation to 51.22 cents. County Judge Dean Fowler has said the hike would pay off the county’s debt and put it on a cash basis.

The 51.22-cent rate would be 3.35 cents above the “effective tax rate”—the amount needed to generate the same amount of revenue the county raised this fiscal year. A higher rate would be needed to generate the same revenue because mineral valuations in the county declined.

Among other items on Friday’s agenda are discussing action regarding funding of county retirement—which has been another controversial issue—and considering a request by the Upshur County Emergency Services District to have the Sheriff’s Office take over the district’s dispatching on fire calls.
© 2012