County tax hearing draws no commenters

Staff Writer

The final public hearing on the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 tax rate for Howard County, held Monday evening in the Howard County Courthouse, lasted less than five minutes. No one from the public showed up to comment on the proposed tax rate.
County commissioners had previously met Sept. 11 for the first public hearing on the proposed rate of 44 cents per $100 valuation; no one showed up for that meeting, either.
County Judge Kathryn Wiseman called Monday's meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.; and, after asking press and a videographer who was recording the proceedings if they would like to comment and receiving negative responses, promptly adjourned.
"Having no one attending this meeting, and having no comments to address, I am saying 'We are adjourned,'" she said.
The rate of 44 cents is the same as the current tax rate, but due to shifting property values, is slightly higher than the effective tax rate of 43.1259 cents per $100 valuation. That means that if the new rate is ultimately adopted, the county should take in about $250,000 more than it did this fiscal year. Wiseman has previously noted that commissioners plan to use the additional funds to replenish the county's fund balance, which was depleted by expenditures this year.
After the meeting, Wiseman confirmed that the tax rate is not set in stone at this point.
"We have to vote on it, and we'll be doing that at our next commissioner's court meeting," she said. The meeting is scheduled for next Monday, Sept. 25, at 3:30 p.m., and will take place in the third-floor courtroom at the courthouse.
Wiseman denied that making comments to county commissioners is a futile effort.
"That's not true, and it's never been true of county government," she said. "County government has always been responsive to the public, and we try to accommodate the public in every way."
In addition to next Monday's regular meeting, commissioners will meet briefly Thursday at 10 a.m. to approve the county payroll for the current two-week pay period.