Elizabethtown property tax rate could remain stable

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Finance director said rate would produce revenues near budgeted projections

By Marty Finley

If Finance Director Steve Park has his way, Elizabethtown’s real property tax rates will remain the same this year.

Park on Monday approached Elizabethtown City Council and recommended it set this year’s rate at 11.6 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The rate, if approved, would remain in line with the rate approved for the last several years.

Park said the amount of revenue produced from the rate will be slightly below budget, but he believes the city can easily recoup the money through the year.

“This is the same rate as last year and will near budget projections,” Park wrote in a memo to the council. “Hopefully normal revenues can be attained with corresponding rate decreases when the real estate market recovers in the future.”

The compensating rate — the rate producing the amount of revenue equal to the amount produced in the previous year — is 11.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, but the city could levy a tax as high as 11.9 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is the rate that will produce an increase of revenues by 4 percent. Each tenth of a percent represents roughly $25,000 in revenue.

If the city levied the compensating rate of 11.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, it would produce about $3.12 million in revenues while the 4 percent growth rate of 11.9 cents per $100 of assessed value would produce about $3.22 million in revenues, according to Park’s memo.

Under the rate, a resident would pay $116 on a $100,000 home.

Because the recommended rate is above the compensating rate, the city will have to hold a public hearing and two public readings before the rate gains passage.

In other news:

  • The council heard a presentation from GIS Administrator Gerald Cole about the advantages of expanding the city’s Geographic Informational System, which captures and stores mapping and information related to city functions and the locations of utilities and infrastructure. The city has budgeted $25,000 in the 2011-12 budget for an Enterprise Licensing Agreement, allowing the city to lease software that would allow web mapping and share the system with the public on mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads. For example, Cole said a resident could use the enhanced system to file a work order electronically, detailing the location of a pot hole or a malfunctioning street light. Cole said the system also would create a better interface internally and allow departments to create their own mapping. It also would create real time updates instead of the current lag when a change is made to the city’s system. For example, if a new fire hydrant was placed, Cole said, the fire department would be updated in real time and be able to map the location within minutes. The system is expected to cost $25,000 for the first three years, but City Engineer Scott Reynolds said the cost would be much larger to expand the system by purchasing the software.
  • The council heard a report from Robert Bush, director of stormwater management, outlining a survey of Poplar Drive residents concerning flooding. Bush said 34 of 41 homeowners in the area responded and the city found a mixture of sanitary sewage backflows and seepage flowing into the homes, many of which are aging. Bush said the majority of the homes had sewer backflow problems, where backflow preventers could be helpful. The city currently has a policy in the Poplar Drive area in which it will pay half of the cost for a backflow preventer and allow the resident to reimburse the city at zero interest over a two-year period.Mayor Tim Walker said the cost is added to the residents’ water and sewer bills over the period. Scott Fiepke, engineer for the water and wastewater department, said all but two of the homeowners had responded by Monday afternoon. Bush said he will update the report with the new respondents and return to the council for an update. Walker said it is the first step in developing a long range plan to combat flooding along Poplar Drive.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.