Council approves budget for 2017

Seymour City Council members gave initial approval to the 2017 budget and tax rate early last week with no discussion or questions from the public.

The council is increasing the budget by $582,833 or about 3 percent over 2016 to help give city employees a 2.5 percent pay increase. But even with the increase, officials don’t expect the overall tax rate to go up due to greater assessed value and income tax revenues.

The budget officially will be adopted at the Oct. 24 council meeting at 7 p.m.

Including all funds, the proposed budget is $18.94 million with $11.22 million to be raised from local property taxes, making the tax rate $1.65 per $100 of assessed value. The remaining budget is funded through local income taxes.

The tax rate will go down before the final rate is certified by the state later this year, said Councilman Lloyd Hudson, chairman of the finance committee.

Hudson said the rate always is advertised and adopted high because it’s not yet known what the city’s assessed value will be. As that value grows, the tax rate drops. Should the assessed value drop, the rate would increase.

Last year, the city adopted a rate of $1.66, but it fell 37 cents to the current rate of $1.29.

Based on projections, Hudson said the 2017 rate is expected to be at the same level.

He credits the city’s ability to not have to raise taxes to the new local option income tax, or LOIT, the county implemented in September. Seymour is expected to receive $1.4 million in LOIT revenue to help fund public safety for 2017.

The local option income tax will be one-quarter of 1 percent, costing wage earners 2.5 cents of every $100 they make while on the job.

Hudson said city department heads do their part to help keep the city from having to raise taxes by how they manage their budgets.

An increase in the number of people working in Seymour and paying income taxes also helps keep people from paying more in property taxes, Mayor Craig Luedeman said.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.