County approves $8.65 million budget

Property value jump to  boost tax revenue

by Kate Shunney

The Morgan County Commission last week signed a 2021-2022 fiscal year budget in the amount of $8,650,861 to cover county operations from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.

Commissioners pointed out that the total budget figure includes an estimated $1.5 million in carryover from this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

That puts the operating budget closer to $7 million, said Commission President Joel Tuttle during the March 24 meeting to approve the budget.

Commissioners will officially set the county’s tax rate on April 20.

The coming year’s budget is based on the current tax rate of 14.3 cents per $100 of assessed value for Class I property, 28.6 cents per $100 value for Class II (owner-occupied) property and 57.2 cents per $100 value for Class III property, which includes second homes and rental properties. County tax rates have remained constant for the last eight years.

County officials expect to bring in $3.917 million in tax revenue in the coming fiscal year, up from $3.776 million in tax collections during this fiscal year.

That increase is tied to an increase in property values seen since the last budget was prepared.

County values up 4.8%

According to documents prepared by the Morgan County Assessor’s Office, the value of all property in the county rose by 4.8% since last year’s budget was prepared.

Total county values, include real estate, personal property, public utilities and property inside the two municipalities, rose from $1,071,567,539 in the 2020 Fiscal Year to $1,123,109,815 in the 2021 Fiscal Year – an increase of $51.5 million.

The sharpest jump in values happened in Class II property, which rose in value by 7%, from $695,945,850 in 2020 to $745,084,282 this year. That’s a gain of $49.1 million.

Property inside the Town of Paw Paw and the Town of Bath lost value during the last year by small margins.

Real estate, personal property and public utility property in Paw Paw dropped in value from $15,266,621 to $14,989,053, with the largest drop in value seen in Class II property – owner-occupied real estate.

Inside the Town of Bath, values dropped from $44,729,462 to $44,567,581. Most of that decline came from a drop in public utility values, according to the town’s Certificate of Valuation.

Budget highlights

The largest single category of expenses for the county is for Public Safety operations, which accounts for $2.69 million – or 31% — of the county’s total $8.65 million budget.

Public Safety expenses include Sheriff’s Law Enforcement ($862,468), the county’s Regional Jail bill ($661,812), the 911 Communications Center ($629,301), Emergency Services operations ($136,373), Courthouse Security ($155,381) and Animal Control ($98,760), plus addressing, and home confinement operations.

Morgan County’s courthouse accounts for the next biggest budget item for 2022.

County officials budgeted $1.796 million for courthouse costs. That figure is 32% of the General Government budget of $5.5 million for the coming year.

County Commission expenses for the 2022 Fiscal Year are budgeted at $1.29 million, up from $1.14 million this year.

Budgeted expenses for other elected offices in the county remained largely unchanged for the coming year. Those include the County Clerk ($268,983), Circuit Clerk ($238,277), Sheriff’s Tax ($281,251), Prosecuting Attorney ($301,022) and Assessor ($239,371). The budget for Economic Development nearly doubled, from $66,889 to $116,687.

A full county budget will be published in The Morgan Messenger in a future issue.