What's Behind Jefferson County's Proposed Tax HikePosted: Updated:
Under the proposed budget, property taxes in Jefferson County will be increasing by a little under 2 percent. That's an additional $14 a year on a home worth $100,000. And according to Robert Hagemann, the county's administrator and budget officer, the lion's share of the budgetary increases are coming from the state mandated programs that the county is required to cover.
“68 percent of the dollars collected in property taxes aren't going to anything other than state mandated programs,” said Hagemann.
Initiatives like “Raise the Age” and Indigent Defense Services added to the budget increase. The Probation Department will get $150,000 to implement Raise the Age and the Public Defender's Office will get $435,000 for Indigent Defense Services.
“In both cases, cash flow-wise we the county will cover those expenses and we hope at some point down the road we will be reimbursed, but there are qualifiers in all those reimbursements and there's a level of risk on top of that,” said Hagemann.
The total property taxes collected from the county will amount to about $59 million – $20 million of that will be going to Medicaid.
“We are one of two states where the cost of the Medicaid program is passed down to the local level. 48 other states, it is a program that is funded by the state and the federal government entirely,” said Scott Gray chair of the Jefferson County Legislature.
There are other things driving up costs, too, including a new, enhanced 911 communications system and pay increases for county workers.
The budget will be finalized at the board of legislators meeting on November 13 at 6 p.m.