Pilot Light: Fire District Tax Rates Reduced
The General Fund and the Advanced Life Support tax rates are not the only levies with recommended reductions in the proposed county budget for 2009-2010.
County Manager Cary McSwain's budget proposal includes recom-mendations for tax rate reductions in 16 of the 17 fire service tax districts. He does not recommend a reduction in the West End Fire District rate -- which, if approved by the Moore County Board of Commissioners, would remain at its present six-cent level. All others would decline by one or more cents.
The commissioners are to meet with fire department leaders during a special budget work session to begin at 1 p.m. Friday.
Fire districts are special tax districts with agreements for fire protection service with a fire department serving either an entirely rural community or the outlying areas of a municipality. The tax is calculated on the basis of property valuation, but the rate differs from district to district.
It is in addition to the regular General Fund property tax and the ALS (paramedic/ambu-lance) tax, both of which are levied against all property owners. In the case of residents of municipalities, the service is covered through the taxes levied by towns and villages.
LONGEVITY -- McSwain's budget recommendation calls for cuts in a series of benefits for employees.
One of those cuts has drawn a protest from some employees, who fear that reduction of longevity pay will become permanent.
McSwain said he hopes to be able to restore longevity pay with the 2010-11 budget, provided the economy improves to the point that this can be done.
McSwain told Pilot Light that he has discussed the pay cut issues with employees and most appear to understand the county's economic situation. Unlike budget proposals in many counties and the state, Moore County's does not call for layoffs or furloughs.
BUILDING -- The April report from the county's building inspectors shows an increase in issuance of permits for residences.
The statistics are provided in the latest monthly report from the Moore County Department of Planning and Community Development.
The report shows that 19 residential building permits were issued in April, up from 10 in March. Permits for alterations and additions doubled from 24 to 48. The increase was smaller for manufactured homes, which climbed from nine to 11.
The Planning Board received the report at the May 7 meeting.
GAS TAX -- The state Senate has passed a bill that would cancel a two-cents-a-gallon gas tax cut scheduled to take effect July 1.
The bill would also halt any reduction in the tax to a point lower than the present 29.9-cent rate. The bill has yet to pass the House.
Supporters of the measure argue that the state needs the revenue generated by the tax to improve and repair the state highway system. Because the tax applies to gallons bought, not to total cost of a fill-up at the pump, the state does not benefit from increases in gasoline prices.
Under the new bill, the cap adopted by the legislature in 2006 would be removed. Lawmakers voted to cap the automatic hike in the gas tax rate that year because of the rapid increase in gas prices at the pump.
Although prices are again climbing, they are still about one-third lower than they were a year ago.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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