The Morgan County Commissioners were the first taxing body in the county to pass their property tax levy Monday night through a truth-in-taxation hearing.
Nearly all taxing bodies in the county are holding truth-in-taxation hearings this month in an effort to capture nearly $37.2 million in new growth in the county within the last year. The majority of the new growth has been attributed to the Lincoln Land Wind Project as well as two large solar farms being installed in the county.
Morgan County Commissioner Chair Ginny Fanning says its likely not going to change the amount of property tax collected from individual home and land owners, unless they had reassessment or were affected by the new growth: “This tax levy will help determine the rate of what will be on people’s tax bill. It does not have any factor in determining how much their taxes are going to be. It’s the rate. With this levy amount, we are thinking that the rate will go down for Morgan County. That is just for our tax levy. I cannot speak for the other taxing bodies.”
Fanning says the property tax “pie” has grown and all of the taxing bodies are attempting to capture the windfall from the growth: “That’s why we have to capture this new construction because it’s going to make the ‘pie’ larger, and then, it will be distributed hopefully in appropriate increments to everyone that way. Since we are a PTELL county, our property tax extension law, the limitation there means that we can’t go over 5%. Now that everybody has this opportunity – that’s why we are all holding these truth-in-taxation public hearings so that people can come and hopefully understand a little bit more about how this process goes about. I know that it’s confusing, but it’s the factor of the Consumer Price Index that we get from the Department of Revenue combined with our new construction. Those two factors are really what triggered the truth-in-taxation hearing.”
Fanning says that the Consumer Price Index has hovered around 2% the last 2-3 years, and new growth has been about $2 million for the last 3-4 years, which she says is well under triggering the 5% PTELL threshold.
The rate increase this year amounts to 11.4% in hopes of capturing the growth. Fanning says she is unsure if next year will bring about more of the same with continued further possible growth by the wind farms and a possible new pipeline. She says next year will again be dependent upon CPI.
The vote for the levy passed unanimously with no members of the public on hand to provide comment or object to any portion of the ordinance.