Por­terdale raises taxes, lays off staff

Tax rate in­creased by 2 mills, em­ploy­ees get fur­lough days

The Covington News - - Front page - By A.J. Archer ajarcher@cov­news.com

De­clin­ing prop­erty val­ues con­tinue to hit Por­terdale hard and will force the city to raise its prop­erty tax rate by 2 mills, lay off two city work­ers and add 12 fur­lough days.

The city coun­cil ap­proved those mea­sures at Tues­day’s called meet­ing to make up for less-than-ex­pected rev­enues mid way through its Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 bud­get year.

The 2-mill in­crease would be a $41 tax hike on a prop­erty with an as­sessed value of $20,440, the av­er­age prop­erty value in Por­terdale, City Clerk Judy John­son said.

“ This in­crease was the last thing we wanted, but it was still nec­es­sary,” John­son said. “ We tried to cut our­selves back as much as we could be­fore bring­ing ( in­creases) to the cit­i­zens.”

The city had bud­geted to col­lect $ 984,733 from its rev­enue streams in­clud­ing prop­erty taxes, traf­fic tick­ets and other fees, this year.

Lay­ing off two em­ploy­ees will save the city about $ 30,000 dur­ing the re­main­der of the bud­get year. No spe­cific po­si­tions were dis­cussed, but coun­cil mem­bers ex­pressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion at hav­ing to let any­one go.

City Man­ager Bob Thom­son said that even­tu­ally no more cuts can be made or the city will not be able to func­tion prop­erly.

Coun­cil­woman Ar­line Chap­man agreed and said mem­bers of the com­mu­nity need to start giv­ing back by vol­un­teer­ing, which could help to al­le­vi­ate bud­get costs and re­duce the need for cuts.

One per­son in at­ten­dance said that he could eas­ily ded­i­cate four hours of his week to work­ing on the city’s needs, such as mow­ing the pub­lic grass.

“ If ev­ery cit­i­zen could take small steps like that, it helps be­cause we are tak­ing cuts ev­ery­where,” John­son said.

The 12 fur­lough days are pro­jected to save the city about $ 17,000.

If rev­enues in­crease later in the year, the coun­cil will de­cide whether it wants to bring the po­si­tions back or re­duce the num­ber of fur­lough days.

Mark Hardison, the city’s au­di­tor, gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on the 2010 bud­get au­dit, say­ing the city’s fund bal­ance is not as strong as it needs to be, but it is much bet­ter than be­ing in a deficit.

He said the city was over its bud­get un­til it made bud­get amend­ments ear­lier this year. Ac­cord­ing to Hardison, the city needs to fix its pay­roll and make some changes to wa­ter bills, af­ter which its funds will be more bal­anced.

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