Last week, the Carbon County Commissioners discussed their potential budget for 2013. It wa announced that the county is faced with a $6 million deficit, and the result could be a whopping 58 percent tax increase.
It would mean a 4 mill increase, bringing the county millage to 10.893.
Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard said it would mean that a county resident who owns a $200,000 home with an assessed value of $100,000 will be required to pay an additional $400 in county real estate taxes in 2013. That's $33 per month more the property owner who has a $100,000 home will have to save for his county property taxes.
There's no telling how much income taxes, municipal taxes, and school taxes also will rise in the forthcoming year.
A 58 percent increase in county taxes is not acceptable. There have to be cuts made somewhere.
Suggested cuts were closing the Department of Solid Waste, which oversees the county recycling program; ending the K-9 shelter, and abolishing the Farmland Preservation Program.
Regarding the Department of Solid Waste, recycling was supposed to be self-sufficient not only in the county but in municipalities. Trash collectors were to share the revenue they made by recycling with the county and the municipalities.
While environmentally, recycling is important, it obviously is not affordable in Carbon County. The county says it will cost the county over $100,000 for the program in the forthcoming year. While $100,000 is a small percentage of a $6 million deficit, it is a noticeable area to cut expenses.
Ending the K-9 program would be harmful to all municipalities, which means all the residents of the county. The K-9 program provides a kennel for dogs that are strays, abandoned pets, and otherwise unwanted companions.
If legal, the county should mandate participation from all county municipalities in the K-9 program and contribute a lesser amount itself. We can't go back to the 60s and 70s when dog packs were running amok and even the police had no place to take strays and other loose animals.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein said he is hoping $750,000 can be shaved off the budget - or a half mill.
Unfortunately, that's still financially suffocating to many home owners who already have difficulty paying their taxes and general living expenses.
Painful decisions have to be made by the commissioners to make larger cuts.
Also, in 2010, the county sold Weatherwood, the county home, because it was losing $8,200 per day on the facility.
The county no longer has this drastic per diem loss, so why is there a $6 million deficit?
Also, the county sold Weatherwood for $11,050,000. Certainly it had loans and other expenses it had to pay with the $11 million, but wasn't any of that money left over after three years?
We have three commissioners who have their hearts in the well being of the public.
Hopefully, they come up with answers to avoid a grossly unaffordable county-wide tax increase, even if it means painstakingly going through the fiscal package line-by-line.
By RON GOWER