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County passes $125.7M budget

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The Tipton County Commission approved a 2014-15 budget Monday night that includes a seven cent property tax increase and a three percent cost of living raise for county employees.

Tipton County went through a property reappraisal from the state this year, something that is done every six years.

The assessed property value in the county decreased from $981 million to $951.8 million.

Because of that change, County Executive Jeff Huffman said most residents will actually pay less in property taxes even though the rate is higher.

The state set the property tax rate at $2.41, which is revenue neutral, meaning the same amount of money should be collected as last year.

"After going back 30 years, I cannot see where this has ever happened in Tipton County," Huffman said about the decreased property value in the county. "Obviously, the recession and the lingering aftermath of the recession has caused values to drop. Not just in Tennessee, but country-wide. When this happens, revenues are stagnant or slow-growing. So local government has to be very cautious that spending is in line with revenue growth, or lack of growth. This year's budget reflects that caution with a budget reduction of about $1 million compared to last year."

This year's budget is $125.7 million, compared to $126.7 million in 2013-14.

It breaks down like this: schools - $78,600,000 ($1.14 tax rate), general fund - $17,036,308 ($.84), highway - $5,763,716 ($.07) and debt service - $5,914,690 ($.36).

County employees received a four percent raise last year, but were not given raises the three previous years.

Huffman said, despite the economic downturn nationwide the last few years, the county is in good financial shape.

The county's per capita debt is $494, one of the lowest in the area. Madison County's is $574, Fayette's $664, Haywood's $1,053 and Crockett's $1,174. Shelby County's is $1,579.

According to Huffman, the county is on track to be out of debt by 2018.

"The overall financial position of the county is very strong," Huffman said. "Tipton County's fund balance reserves are among the highest in the state as a percentage of the budget. But the best financial news for taxpayers is that Tipton County is on a glide path to be completely out of debt in four years. To be coming out of a recessionary period, and at the same time coming out of debt, is a very good position to be in for Tipton County."

The tax rate was last increased 28 years ago when the county took over the school system.

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