Proposed Lenoir County budget increases property taxes

Proposed Lenoir County budget increases property taxes

Property owners in Lenoir County would see their taxes increase if the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year receives approval from the Board of Commissioners.

The 2019-2020 budget includes an increase in Lenoir County’s property tax from $.83 per $100 in value to $.845 per $100, an increase of 1-1/2 cents.

If the proposed county budget is passed, it could be a double-hit in property tax increases for residents of the City of Kinston too; the proposed city budget also includes an increase in property taxes (see story here).

New Lenoir County Manager Michael James said the increase was required because tax revenue in the county has not grown as fast as the cost of providing necessary services to the citizens of the county.

The tax increase, if passed, is expected to raise approximately $533,395 in additional revenue for the county, according to the submitted budget proposal. A major expense that funding is expected to offset is the cost of repairs and renovations for the Lenoir County Courthouse, which is estimated at $513,000.

Also included in the budget is funding for a compensation and classification study to compare the salaries and benefits paid to Lenoir County employees to other nearby municipalities to see if adjustments are needed.  

Board of Commissioners Chair Linda Rouse Sutton said a comprehensive study is needed, because past attempts have only looked at parts of the issue, without considering the whole picture.

Other capital outlay projects include nine new vehicles for the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office, new voting machines for the Board of Elections and a new ambulance and administrative vehicle for Lenoir County Emergency Services.

Not all members of the Board of Commissioners are pleased with the proposed budget, however. Commissioner J. Mac Daughety said he opposes raising property taxes when overall revenue increased last year and the amount the county is spending on debt services is projected to continue to decrease.

“I can’t in good conscience vote for a property tax increase that breaks my word, puts more suffering on people who are on fixed incomes, puts a greater burden on our agribusiness community and farmers and creates more revenue without a strategic plan for how to spend it in the long run,” Daughety said.

Daughety also said the proposed budget is unfair to county employees, who will see their taxes go up without any plan in place to increase their salaries.

The Board of Commissioners will meet Monday, June 17 at 4 p.m. to consider the proposed budget and hear from the public about it before they hold a vote. The meeting will be held at the Lenoir County Courthouse, 130 S. Queen St., in Kinston. Those who wish to speak at the hearing are encouraged to arrive early to sign in. Public comments are heard at the beginning of the session.

You can view the proposed budget here.

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