Wichita County Commissioners Propose Tax Hike

Residents in Wichita County could see an increase in their taxes this year.

On Monday, August 3rd, 2015, County Commissioners approved to advertise an increased tax rate.  That rate is 0.55300 cents.  What this means, is for a $100,000 home it would be an increase of $50 on your taxes.  If passed, this would be the highest tax rate the county has seen in the last 10 years.

"It is an increase," Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom said, "It's the first time we've done that in two years."

In fact, for the past two years, county commissioners have decreased the tax rate.  However, for different reasons, officials said the tax hike is necessary.  One of the reasons is because officials haven't been able to give county employees a raise in three years.  This is of course something they would like to be able to do.

"The second thing is, we've had additional jail expenses beyond what had been budgeted, and that pulls down on reserves," Judge Gossom said.

The last reason, is because of flooding expenses.  Officials said they will not recoup all of the money that was spent earlier this year, which was not budgeted for.  Thankfully, the county had the money in the contingency plan, but they said they need to build it back up.

"The long term goal is for the county to remain in solid financial condition because when we do go to issue bonds for the new jail facilities that we have a good rate for that," he said.

Officials said it will be a while before the county issues bonds, since there is still a lot of planning that needs to be done.  However, they want to be ready when the time comes.

Since county officials are proposing a new tax rate, state law requires them to hold two public hearings.  Those will be on August 12th, 2015 at 6:00p.m. and August 17th, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.  Both meetings will be in the county commissioners chambers.  Officials said following the second meeting, they will vote on whether or not to accept the new tax rate.  They encourage the public to attend the meetings to give their input.

Alexandra McClung, Newschannel 6