New county budget includes tax increase for hospital

Public hearings scheduled for July 19 and Aug. 7

Jefferson County Commissioners are proposing a tentative budget that includes a 12.29 percent increase in the county’s millage rate. 
The first of three public hearings on the tax increase was scheduled for Tuesday, July 11. Two more are scheduled; one on Wednesday, July 19, at noon; and, the other for Monday, Aug. 7, at 6 p.m. All hearings are to be held at the county’s commission office in Louisville.
The tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 18.126 mills for the county only. This figure does not include millage rates for any of the cities inside the county nor does it include the millage rate for the county’s Board of Education.
The county is required to balance the revenue with expenditures. The estimated expenditures for fiscal year 2018, which runs from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018, is $12,666,965 with a matching estimated revenue. 
Some of the departments with the highest estimated expenditures are the sheriff’s office at almost $3 million ($2,978,831); Correctional Institution at $1,870,981; Recreation Department at $204,934; Transit at $333,825; Road Department at $442,761; Emergency 911 at $380,420; and Jefferson Hospital at $1,520,000.
On the revenue side, estimates include fines from state court at $270,061. Around 10 recreational activities are expected to generate income including $7,745 from concessions, $2,458 from baseball and $3,427 from soccer. An estimated $53,981 is expected from Title III for nutrition, $32,637 from jail commissary, $35,549 from passenger fares DOT vans, $184,977 from housing federal inmates, $30,275 from motor vehicles tag collection fee and $44,418 from magistrate fees.
The county has stated the proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $75,000 is approximately $56.67. The proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $75,000 is about $60.72.
The hearings are open to the public.
Jefferson County Administrator Adam Brett said this week the biggest difference in the budget this year is the money that will be used to help fund Jefferson Hospital.
“The hospital authority has 2 additional mills of tax revenue going to them,” Brett said. “That would be the biggest change. Last year, they had 1 additional mill. The referendum was for the purpose of funding the hospital up to 3 mills, so there will be an additional 2 mills to bring the total to 3 mills,” he said.
The administrator said several departments have lowered their budget through salaries and other measures. Where senior employees have retired or otherwise left, Brett pointed out replacements would earn significantly less than those they replaced.
There is also a change expected to save money. 
“The county’s going to an HRA program for the employees’ insurance. The county will self-fund the higher deductible that comes with this insurance program. The employees will still pay the same deductible as before. There will be no change in the quality of benefits or insurance service. The county will actually be saving about $45,000 to $55,000,” Brett said.
The main reason for the proposed tax increase is the funds dedicated to the hospital, he said. 
The value of a mill went down about $2,000 on the net digest; so, actually, the gross digest basically stayed flat this year,” the administrator said.
“The preliminary value of a mill is $388,132. That’s not a set digest number, it’s preliminary; but that’s pretty close to what it will wind up being,” he said.
Brett is scheduled to present information about the budget during a Lunch and Learn program Thursday, July 20, at noon at The Dogwood Café in Louisville. 
The event host is the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and is free to all Chamber members. Non-members may attend but will need to pay a fee of $15. Queensborough National Bank & Trust and Best Office Solutions are sponsoring the event. 
To register, contact the Chamber at 478-625-8134.