Boone County Hopes to Expand Water, Broadband Access
The Boone County Fiscal Court watched a presentation last week on its possible tax rates.
The rates must be adopted by September 20 and a public hearing on the matter is scheduled for September 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the county government building in Burlington.
County Administrator Jeff Earlywine reported that currently, the county's tax rate is 10.2 cents per $100 of assessed value for real property and 12.5 cents per $100 of assessed value for personal property.
If the court adopts the compensating rate, to ensure that it collects the same amount of revenue as it did last year, the real property rate would drop to 9.8 cents per $100 of assessed value, Earlywine said.
Earlywine said that the county was bolstered by about $1 billion in total value, attributing it to new property and appreciation of old property.
With this boon, Earlywine revisited goals set out by the fiscal court in February of last year: managing growth, economic development, quality of life, and management of county government. The county then wanted to explore an expansion of water and sewer services and high-speed broadband internet access to the western portion of the county.
Earlywine said that expanding the water service would result in safe drinking water, improved fire protection, and reduced homeowner insurance premiums.
An expansion of broadband service would provide tools for students and educational systems, home businesses, and tele-health/tele-medicine delivery, he said.
Judge/Executive Gary Moore remarked that he grew up in Pendleton County and he wondered how that economically smaller county could provide water service to all while Boone couldn't. He noted that he learned that Pendleton used smaller lines to move water to all households, but they lack fire suppression. Moore said that Boone County won't use anything smaller than an eight-inch pipe to guarantee access to fire suppression.
The system is more expensive, he said, but the court still hopes to provide water and broadband to those who lack it.
Earlywine said that tax revenue generated from a rate above the compensating rate would provide partial funding to extend the utility and could also leverage additional funding from utility providers and grants.
Additional tax revenue could be earmarked for capital outlay, including placement in a specific fund. Also, additional tax revenue could be used to fund long term debt service, allowing the county to be eligible for more bonding power.
In other business, the fiscal court approved a tax credit on the occupational license fee for new employees to be added to Wabco USA. The expansion of that company in Hebron will provide 123 new jobs with an average wage of $39 per hour.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor